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The Beatles and Lessons on Teamwork

I have been witness to failure of global teams – and not because the team quality was bad. But the quality was too good!

They were all rock stars- right from engineering folks to managers, but somehow didn’t gel well with each other.
And while I was wondering what keeps a rocking team together, I came across this wonderful article from Strategy+Business (registration reqd.)

Here are a few takeaways from the article:

  • Invest in Face Time
    In today’s global world, most of the team members are spread across the geography [virtual teams], and the only piece of communication channels are emails/conference calls. Contrast this with Beatles -“When the young Beatles first hit the top of the U.K. charts in 1963, with “Please Please Me,” they seemed like an overnight sensation, but they weren’t. Behind their seemingly effortless playing were thousands of hours logged performing together in the clubs of Liverpool and Hamburg. This face time forged the individual Beatles into a cohesive, tightly knit team that Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger called, enviously, “the four-headed hydra.”
    Beatles, no matter how different they were spent time with each other and that glued them as a team. So when they performed live, they had a blast!While today’s managers are more concerned about short term costs [of bringing the global team under a roof] and tend to overlook the long term benefit of having a well-glued team.
  • Evolve/Experiment and keep pumping the Enthusiasm
    One of the most significant reason for teams to fail is lack of motivation. Over a period of time, motivation level heads southwards and managers, in general don’t realize this until its too late.
    Unless the team innovate and experiment and have the ‘Lets try this’ approach, motivation levels are difficult to maintain.”The Beatles had profound powers of observation. They absorbed the world around them, framed it musically, and gave it back to us.
    Complacency — being content to sing “I Want to Hold Your Hand” over and over again — is the enemy of sustainable success. The way to keep clients and customers for life is to evolve your songs with them — to constantly expand your repertoire.
  • Give everybody a chance – Rock stars as well as pop ones!
    How many times have you seen people quitting an organization because they were never appreciated? I have seen managers respecting the rock stars but not the others – Always remember that you need all sorts of people in team to make the it happen.”For example, drummers always feel underappreciated in rock groups, and Ringo Starr was no exception. So Lennon and McCartney would write a song for him to sing on almost every album. As the Beatles matured as a team, they worked even harder to recognize and embrace each player. It worked: The individual Beatles became brands within the brand”.
  • And most importantly – Bring people who are different from you and of course, Agree to Disagree.
    Most of the managers are scared to bring in people who are different from themselves. Reason? They cannot agree to disagree. Ideas are not discussed and are instead imposed!. And the result? We all know.”The most successful songwriting duo in history, in contrast, was composed of two individuals — John Lennon and Paul McCartney — who were dissimilar in almost every respect. When they first met, in July 1957, Lennon was a cynical, angry, sarcastic young man of 16 who was constantly getting into trouble. Ultimately, he came to loathe the Beatles’ fame. McCartney, on the other hand, was optimistic and hardworking. He liked to please, and would later adore celebrity. Despite their differences, they were drawn together by a shared love of American rock and roll and their powerful musical ambitions.”

So all you Sgt. Peppers – give Beatles theory a chance!!

BTW – What are your experience with working in teams? Especially the ones which are geographically spread?

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