A company should work like a band

Ever heard someone say, “A company should work like a band”? Well I have. And it took me a while to understand what it really meant.

Eye Opener – Metallica’s Some Kind of Monster.

This epic truth bomb explained word for word on what it takes for a band to function. A quick synopsis on how Metallica ended up at Some Kind of Monster.

The starting 4 – James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Cliff Burton were rock solid and almost always hit out of the park. Each member was acing their respective departments and the collaboration was raw power. This was a band that gave out mammoth titles like Fade to Black, Master of Puppets etc. The year is 1986 and Metallica now has 2 amazing albums and is the USA’s iconic Thrash Metal Band.

Everything is beer, art and creative juices until crisis hits Metallica in September of 1986 when Cliff Burton passes away in a bus accident. The entire band is shook, and now lacks its bassist. Enter – Jason Newsted.

Jason is a true rockstar and fills Cliff’s shoes incredibly well for the next 15 years until 2001 when he decides to part ways with the band (bands are run by humans… so shit happens). In an interview with Los Angeles Times, Jason shared his reasons beyond his personal physical challenges to continue working with Metallica; it was impossible for him to play a more creative role in the band and that Metallica was spending too much time fighting Napster and not enough time working on new music – 15 years into the process, Metallica ends up in the same spot from back in ‘86.

Amidst this crisis, the band realises it needs an intervention and hires a group therapist. That’s when Some Kind of Monster happens – originally a documentary to cover performances and jam sessions but somehow ends up covering their therapy sessions. From here, it’s a no holds barred. For the first time, fans see a band, beyond the glamour, fame and music – they see the band’s human side. Series of altercations and disagreements between members. dominance behaviour, addiction, rehab, to a point that the band’s manager ends up saying that they will never find a permanent bassist and that they will remain a 3-piece band with a series of temporary placeholders. 

But since passion always finds its way, Metallica rose to the occasion. Schedules were adjusted to accommodate healing members, finding middle grounds, and eventually a great bassist – Robert Trujillo.

By 2003, Metallica was as tight as they were 20 years back. From there on, they never let their objective die, which was to make great music. They faced a lot of flack from other bands and a few fans about bringing out negativity among band members, but it all paid off from there with their new Album – St. Anger and so on. With almost 40 years of mind melting metal music (say that 10 times :D) Metallica continues to slay it.

Lessons learnt from this short story – 

  • Working with as like-minded people as possible
  • Everyone sharing the same goals and ultimate objectives
  • Learning to work together as a team
  • Never give up
  • Always remember to have fun – together

Are there any other lessons that jump off your head as you read the above piece?

2 thoughts on “A company should work like a band

Add yours

  1. This article has very little to do with how companies function and is more of a history lesson of Metallica. I understand that you tried to draw a metaphor but it didn’t work.

    I noticed you have a passion for music from the band names in your Sales pipeline screenshot and this article (I’m a musician too) but perhaps don’t mix that passion a lot with a professional B2B SaaS product where its not required (such as this article).

    Further, I like the features in your product and the ideology behind it but I’ll always be hesitant in adopting it as long as the website remains this shabby and the branding (logo, fonts, etc) remain this unclean. The first mark of a good software company is that they can create a stellar website for themselves.

    Take this as genuine sugar-free feedback and not criticism.

    I have setup Sales teams for a couple of startups and hence thought that I’d share my 2 cents.


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