Dealing with grown-ups

Folks often ask me what prompted me to start up this blog over 12 years ago. In keeping with the New Year I thought I would update my response.

Simple answer: I wanted to use this space to make my business-lessons-from-rock case—namely, that rock & roll bands (who are essentially small business teams) have much to teach us in larger organizations about innovation, style, attitude, and taking fun seriously.

But then folks would say, “Ok, but what got you going on THAT?"

Well, when I first began management consulting and training 35 years ago, I felt a tad dislocated in my new environment. I had played in bands for a living up until then and had avoided anything resembling a corporate life. So when I started working in business I just couldn't relate to the lack of play, humor, passion, engagement, creativity, personality, design, chutzpah, and free-thinking autonomy that were in abundant supply in the music world.

I felt like a kid surrounded by grown-ups who had forgotten how to have fun and be themselves. But as I began to work more closely with organizational leaders I began to see them (even the top executives) as kids also, underneath their well-designed work costumes. Viewing them this way, I could better relate to them and help liberate them from their careful disguises, and blocked self-expression.

15 years later I realized that this was exactly what Tom Peters had been evangelizing in his talks and books (such as In Search of Excellence, The Pursuit of WOW!, Thriving on Chaos, and Re-Imagine!). So I began working with Tom’s company and got my start as a blogger on his website, which then led me to begin my own blog.

Now, working on my own, I’m even more clear that too many people in the workforce are dealing with an almost incapacitating fear of being themselves, of thinking for themselves, of expressing themselves, and of standing up for themselves. It’s also evident to me that some combination of play, fun, exuberance, personality, imagination, independence, etc. is what's urgently needed to displace that fear.

And—surprise!—these seem to be the same qualities needed for teams, organizations, and businesses to be successful in the 21st century, a case I’ve been making on these cyber pages for the last decade! An earlier post on "Serious Play" sums it up pretty well here.

Now that we're kicking off a new year, it's time to get re-inspired. One way I do this is to catch the music of Walk Off The Earth, whose other-worldly originality, ingenuity, and playfulness are a great reminder to think outside the grooves.

Here's one of their early DIY videos, which immediately grabbed my attention.

Check out my earlier post on this same video, with excellent reader comments.


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1 Comment

  1. Some companies encourage 'play' because their industry demands it. An ad agency for instance, but they are the exception. Most businesses discourage spontaneity and they don't even know they're doing it. The bigger the business the more they suppress it.

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