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