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Management Lessons from the Dead

Jeffrey Williams

"By implementing a loose management style, long on flexibility and short on structure, [the organization] pioneered practices and strategies that would subsequently be embraced by corporate America."

Their style?

  • horizontal management
  • shared leadership
  • social consciousness
  • great customer service
  • viral marketing
  • nurturing community
  • pioneers of "free"

The organization? The Grateful Dead.

Barry Barnes offers 10 key lessons for businesses in his book "Everything I Know About Business I Learned from the Grateful Dead."

They are:

  • Master Strategic Improvisation.
  • Live Your Values.
  • Be Kind to Your Customers.
  • Share Your Content.
  • Create a Business Tribe.
  • Insource.
  • Innovate Constantly.
  • Transform Through Leadership.
  • Share the Power.
  • Exploit the Experience Economy.

Good stuff, to be sure. But it's stories that stick, not lists. And the book has some good ones.

The building custodian (a Dead employee) who vetoed a record deal because it felt like selling out.

The way Jerry Garcia was always seen with his guitar, perfecting his craft.

They way the band adapted and persevered after being cheated ... after their in-house label failed ... after fans started taping their shows.

Over and over.

I'd add "practice resiliency" to the list. 

Anyway, think this through with me, let me know your mind. Whoa, oh, what I want to know, is are you kind.

And yes, I am listening to that song right now.