Topic: “Teams”

How Motown built their success on a culture of creativity and collaboration

I’d always thought that Motown’s success was a combination of its talented stars and fortunate timing, but I only recently learned that much of its success was due to a mastery of the power of the team–loosely coupled, highly aligned. Everyone at Motown was empowered with a singular goal that they all collected around: to create hit records.

And the mindset and methods responsible for Motown’s huge success in its heyday are just as relevant today.

These methods allowed Motown to build a powerful culture that turned an $800 investment in 1960 into $20 million annual revenue within six years and produced some of the biggest hits and superstars of the 20th century.

But teams that want to generate their own success don’t need a Diana Ross or Smokey Robinson to make it work. Motown capitalized on its vision by following a set of first principles that will sound quite familiar:

  • Iterate rapidly through divergence and convergence
  • Accept failure as a necessary step to learning
  • Critique artifacts, not people
  • Scale through strong, service-based leadership

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