Master Craftsmanship

First Published in BusNet on 28 October 2010

If I mentioned international artists Chris, Will, Guy and Jonny, you’d be forgiven for assuming they were a trendy boy band – probably one in which the members didn’t actually play any instruments and had little artistic credibility, yet were propelled to stardom by well choreographed acts and a hologram of cut-out personalities.

This particular group is in fact Coldplay, the most successful British band of the decade, having received 43 major awards and sold over 50 million albums.

They first met during their orientation week at University College London and they were friends for a year before they realised their shared dream of forming a band. They left university three years later as professional musicians after signing a five-album contract with Parlophone.

A model of excellence on many levels, Coldplay symbolises four of the main characteristics of networking. The first is that the personal connection comes first, and the business rationale usually only emerges later. We call this finding connectivity, and remind you of the chance to do this at the Léman Expat Fair in Lausanne this Sunday. It’s a free event with over 120 exhibitors, all arranged by the excellent team at Léman Events.

The second characteristic is that deep inspiration comes from outside sources. It’s very rare that you will have all the best expertise in your own business team. The accepted wisdom is that you can find performance catalysts in the ecosystem around you. The versatility of Coldplay’s repertoire shows how they have sought and found inspiration from a spectrum of other successful artists.

Thirdly, networking is about collaboration. The spark of a new song may begin by idly strumming random chords trying to stumble upon an appealing melody (the band’s front-man, Chris Martin, describes this as the ‘fisherman’s bank’ because of the patient process of waiting for something to bite). It takes elaborate teamwork to refine this into a hit single – for the subtle lyrics written by one individual in the middle of the night to become a collective anthem to twenty thousand people at a live performance. Coldplay had experimented with over 80 variations of Viva la Vida before they finally agreed on one. The song went on to win last year’s Grammy award for Song of the Year.

Finally, networking is about loyalty – an enduring willingness to share your experience with others, and to have faith in the advice that others offer you. Unlike typical boy bands, neither Chris, Will, Guy nor Jonny have tried to break away to find greater success on their own. Once, however, they dropped Will (their drummer) from the group after they received negative technical feedback from some critics. Then, three days later, they pleaded with him to rejoin when they realised that music is about feeling and not about technique.

Coldplay never want to be bigger than they are better. I guess we can only dream of getting as much pleasure from our life in business as they clearly get from the hours they spend pushing the frontiers in their London recording studio – yet they personify four of the things that can make our business lives more pleasurable: connectivity, resourcefulness, collaboration and loyalty.

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James writes lifestyle books and blog articles as a hobby. In his principal role, he is as a specialist in business modelling as a process for empowering business decision-makers and unlocking business value.

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