A business professor in Spain wants to rock you. In a recent session for MBA alumni, Salvador López, the marketing lecturer at Esade Business School and author of the Spanish-language book ROCKvolución empresarial, turned jam sessions into business lessons. He had students view film of live concerts and interviews with musicians to analyse their use of technology, ability to form alliances with clients, whom they call fans, and outside-the-box thinking.
What makes rock'n'roll stars good teachers for managers?
The world of music and musicians is a true source of knowledge and inspiration for organisations and managers. There are plenty of examples of innovation strategies, teamwork, leadership styles, adaptation to change, reinvention, getting out of the comfort zone, creative usage and adoption of new technologies, positive competitive strategies, co-creation, fan conversion, and, across all that, disruptive thinking.
What examples do you use to make the connection between business and music?
Forty years ago many music executives were trying to prevent fans from filming entire concerts or taking photos of musicians. But the Grateful Dead encouraged fans to do it and share their film and images with others. The result was that the group had to play in bigger and bigger venues. The Dead put fans in charge of its publicity, and it tried to create a positive alliance with clients instead of trying to fight them.
Which band is the best example for connecting business and music?
I would pick Pink Floyd if I had to choose one. Pink Floyd used emotions, technology and out-of-the-box thinking. It was a good cocktail.
What have you taken from music and applied to business?
I'm working on my first album, 10 knots, which will be in English, Spanish and Catalan, and I hope to release it in a couple of months. It's a combination of styles, including blues, rock, pop, and gospel. I'm the singer-songwriter, and I play all the guitars and piano. I will make it free to download. I'm learning from other musicians that sharing your music for free can lead to fans coming to your shows or later ordering CDs.
Why should businesspeople pay attention to musicians?
Musicians use much more of the right side of the brain-emotions, intuition, creativity, arts and that is a fact extraordinarily interesting because, as Albert Einstein once said: "We cannot solve problems with the same mindset that created them".
OK, if we need a different mindset, I propose getting inspiration from a different angle: the way musicians think.
* Bloomberg Businessweek