What The Beatles Get Back! Teaches Us About Teams … the Good, the Bad, and the Truly Epic!
In this issue: What The Beatles Get Back! Teaches Us About Teams / Is Culture-Fit Overrated / The Seven Types of Rest / The Lighter Side of Teams
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What The Beatles Get Back! Teaches Us About Teams … the Good, the Bad and the Truly Epic!
Peter Jackson’s new documentary about The Beatles is a truly amazing look at one of the world’s most influential bands…and a very poignant and real window on the dissolution of one of the world’s most successful teams.
With all the hype around companies today, we forget that the Beatles were one of the original unicorns with their music catalog alone valued at over $1 billion dollars.
So, is it any wonder that when a colleague told me about the documentary I immediately thought about what caused this once extremely high-functioning team to come apart while at the top of their industry (yes, I know, I really need to get out more :).
Throughout this almost 8-hour truly epic documentary we get an inside look at the arguments and frustration as well as the deep love and profound creativity that marked a truly unparalleled 10+ year collaboration.
In this brief, three-week period of their long career, it’s impossible to pinpoint exactly what caused them to disband, but what was clear is that all the signs were all there that the end was near.
The (Not Quite) Five Dysfunctions of a Band
In his highly-acclaimed, bestselling book, the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team Patrick Lencioni looks at the heart of why teams - even those who seem to be performing at their very best like The Beatles - often struggle.
In the book, Lencioni shares his now-famous model of the 5 dysfunctions that need to be overcome to create healthy teams.
At the foundation of the pyramid is the absence of trust.
It’s clear in the documentary, with the numerous disagreements about the project itself, that the group’s trust in one another had already begun to erode.
The next on the pyramid is the fear of conflict.
While conflict among the band was visible during the film it wasn’t always the constructive kind that leads to the harmony Lencioni discussed in the book. It was more the maladjusted kind that many of us experienced over Thanksgiving or during other family events (or so I’ve heard :).
Lencioni cautions that without healthy conflict the third dysfunction, a lack of commitment, will occur.
This can be seen as George Harrison briefly quits and other members of the team fail to fully engage at varying points during the creation of the album.
With this lack of commitment comes the fourth and what Lencioni calls the most common dysfunction of a team, avoidance of accountability.
Lennon described the sessions as “hell,” and Harrison called them the group’s “winter of discontent.” While Paul complained about being put in the impossible position of having to play “boss,” since the loss of their longtime manager and organizational center, Brian Epstein a few years prior. They were all there, but they weren’t truly together in the way that they had been in the past.
Despite all of this, the group never quite makes it to the fifth and final stage of dysfunction - inattention to results.
At times during the documentary, it looked questionable whether the group would perform what turned out to be their final live show, the now infamous rooftop concert at Apple Records, or produce what eventually became Let It Be, their final album together…both were great successes, though at a very high price.
The personal and artistic conflicts throughout the filming signaled what was their eventual breakup, a year later.
Lessons in (Team) Harmony
Despite their eventual breakup, there were clearly lessons in Get Back! demonstrating what made these four young lads from Liverpool one of the most successful and beloved “teams” in music history and what made it possible for them to produce their two final albums before breaking up a year later.
1) All You Need is Love:
Despite the conflicts and artistic differences at the core of this team were four people who loved their work and each other.
During the film you see these four great friends and musicians, who despite their differences, were still able to have moments of real joy and laughter, doing what they loved best, making music together.
When you truly love what you’re doing and the people you’re doing it with, it’s easier to put aside differences to attain the desired results.
2) A Little Help from Your Friends:
When everything was at a low point, George invited their good friend Billy Preston, who John referred to as the fifth Beatle, into the studio to join them.
George said that “Billy didn’t know all the politics and the games that had been going on, so in his innocence he got stuck in and gave an extra little kick to the band. Everybody was happier to have somebody else playing and it made what we were doing more enjoyable. We all played better, and it was a great session.”
There are benefits to having an outside perspective, someone who isn’t involved in whatever is causing the dysfunction, bringing new energy and even a little more joy into the process.
3) Let it Be:
Peter Jackson remarked about the documentary “There’s no villains, there’s no heroes. It’s just a human story.”
In the end, isn’t that what all teams are, a group of people coming together bringing all their individual dysfunctions (though personally, I prefer quirks :) to (hopefully) create a better, more effective outcome.
Whether looking at Lencioni’s model or video clips of four friends who had grown apart, what’s starkly clear is that it’s almost impossible to account for that sometimes fatal condition called being human.
RECOMMENDED LISTENS, READS
“…if organizations want to increase the representation of talented people while enriching - rather than hampering - diversity, they should just focus on talent, and the key ingredients of human potential, allowing for a wide range of interests, values, and beliefs to fluctuate in their recruits. Contrary to popular belief, this will not hinder, but enrich the culture of the organizations.”
The seven types of rest: I spent a week trying them all. Could they help end my exhaustion?
We can’t function forever fueled by adrenalin and caffeine, fogged brains scrabbling to function, nerves frayed like a cheap phone cable. When we feel fatigued most of us focus on sleep problems. But proper relaxation takes many forms. The author spent a week exploring what really works.
The Lighter Side of Trust
Are there any other subjects you want me to cover? Hit “Reply” and tell me!
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Andrea J. Miller
+1 (646) 556-5401 (Whatsapp)