Great rock bands seem to be case studies in harnessing conflict—a team skill I prize above all others in business these days.
Why? Because if we can't manage the inevitable discord among individuals on our teams, the other qualities we need—creativity, enthusiasm, ambition, independent thinking, etc.—will be suppressed or squandered.
Now if there's one band that mastered the art of leveraging conflict, it's The Who—the fiery quartet that exploded out of the London Mod scene in the mid-'60s to become the most exuberant performers of twentieth century rock.
What you may not know is that the surviving members of the original band—guitarist/songwriter Peter Townsend and lead singer Roger Daltrey—did not get along with each other for much of their career. Yet the un-throttled passion of the Who's music—as captured below in a 1978 video—speaks volumes for their ability to capitalize on that interpersonal tension to produce extraordinary concerts and recordings. (For anyone interested in HOW they managed to pull that off, we can explore that in the comments.)
Interestingly, many other top bands of that same era had a similar capacity to embrace conflict over the long-term—including the Kinks, Pink Floyd, and even the cherubic Beach Boys—whose internecine struggles provided an interesting harmonic to their "Good Vibrations."
In the case of The Beatles, I would argue that the creative conflict between John Lennon and Paul McCartney, well managed until the band's later years, was the source of their astonishing productivity. (Other exceptionally talented bands of the time, including Cream, Buffalo Springfield—featuring regular flare-ups between Stephen Stills and Neil Young—and the original Byrds, had disappointingly short careers precisely because they could not manage their internal differences for long.)
Jerry Hirshberg, while at Nissan Design International, coined the term "creative abrasion" to describe the friction between strong individuals with opposing views which can generate "creative sparks" yielding innovative ideas and solutions.
In his book The Creative Priority he contends this creative abrasion, though uncomfortable to deal with and challenging to manage, is something to pursue—because "the prioritization of creativity requires the accommodation of dissent from the prevailing view."
Simple to grasp but messy to apply. Yet the best business teams, including the best rock bands, learn how to leverage that creative and personal discord.
And here's a different video of The Who, which better captures the joy of their performances.