Should U2 Be Your Team's Management Guru?

Last Updated Sep 8, 2008 5:06 PM EDT

49326027_59eef86ff3_m.jpgWhat can the seminal (and smashingly successful, influential, and long-lived) rock band U2 teach your workplace team? Plenty, according to Michael Lee Stallard. He contends that understanding U2's inner workings can improve your group's dynamics.

He singles out three aspects of the band's culture that smart managers can steal:

1. A shared mission and set of values. He describes U2's mission as "improving the world through music and influence." Stallard notes that the band members value continuous improvement to achieve their own potential.

2. A participatory, consensus-oriented decision-making style. The band members appreciate each others' strengths and how they fit together. While lead singer Bono might hear music in his head, he relies on his bandmates to make the songs a reality.

3. A caring community. The members of U2 support each other and are part of a larger community that includes their families, crew members, and collaborators. And despite Bono's considerable popularity they share profits equally. Says Stallard:

"What better way to show your team members that you value them and recognize their unique contributions than by treating them as economic equals?"
The latter sentiment is lovely, but probably not realistic in the workplace. And much as I love U2, I have to say the only thing new or noteworthy in Stallard's article is the inclusion of the band as the latest workplace motivator. A shared mission and set of values? Come on, that's management 101. Consensus-oriented decision making? Plenty of people have written about that already, and the approach gets mixed reviews. A caring community? It's a no-brainer to realize that teams don't function as effectively in a vacuum and that the support of your co-workers is, well, kind of important.

So sorry, folks, there's no groundbreaking advice here. Other than to maybe take headlines mentioning U2 with a grain of salt.

(image by Phil Romans via Flickr, CC 2.0)

  • CC Holland

    CC Holland is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and a number of national magazines. Online, she was a columnist for and writes regularly for and BNET. On the other side of the journalism desk, she's been a managing editor for ZDNet, CNet, and KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, where she earned an APTRA Best News Web Site award.