I know you like stories about management ideas applied to real life, here’s one:
You may remember the idea of the Management Potato, where if you criticise people their ‘Potato of Performance’ just gets smaller until it becomes a prune, but if you build them up you can get a pumpkin…
Well, even if you know about the theory, it still happens, and I can feel it happening to me in the band – and there’s not much I can do about it.
It started when I made some posters for us to give to pubs, and our guitarist and band leader, who is a very talented artist but too busy to make any posters, said “Oh well, I suppose they’ll do until we get some proper ones”. So I don’t think I’ll bother with making a version 2…
Next I got us a gig at a pub that turned out to be less than brilliant, and the comment was (translated for spam filter suitability) “This is a rubbish gig you’ve got us Chris!” It took several visits and a few phone calls to get that gig, they’re always a pain to get, and so I think I’ll not bother with getting gigs any more.
Our previous bass player used to bring song ideas along, but they were nearly always rejected out of hand by the leader, and although I think I’ve got some really good ones I don’t think I’ll risk it.
I had been planning to get a back-drop printed, and I’ve got a good idea for a design, but I know what he’ll say, so I think I don’t do it.
So basically I don’t really do anything now, apart from the minimum, which is to turn up and play. Don’t get me wrong, I love the music, and the band is great, but it needs people to do more than play, and that’s just not happening any more. I guess everyone else feels the same as I do!
a) Am I too sensitive? Should I persevere for the good of the band? Maybe, but it wears you down after a while (the above were shortened for clarity, it’s been a long relentless process), so however tough you are your potato gets diminished eventually. Mine has taken about 5 years to reach a prune…
b) What should the leader have done, given that maybe my posters weren’t very professional and the gig I got was a bad one? The answer is to think “Posters – At least he’s done this much, which is more than anyone else, and much better than nothing” and say “Brilliant, thanks Chris!”. Gig – “Don’t worry about the gig not working out, there’s no way to tell until you get there on the night, and your next one will probably be a great one”. And yes, he should have agreed to play one of the bass player’s songs, even if it wasn’t our best number. I expect John Lennon’s first song wasn’t as good as Imagine!
c) Parallels with work – anyone who suggests ideas or does work beyond the minimum needs to be noticed and encouraged, however small their efforts appear and however tough and experienced you might think they are. The oak tree has to start as an acorn, at which point it is easily trampled!
Onwards and upwards!
PS – Don’t try and help me solve the band’s problems, I’ll be alright! – the point of this email is to get you to ask yourself if you are nibbling away at someone else’s potato without realising….?