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Mosh Pit Metaphor

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Written by Dan Hoffman

What a treat - I got to watch the Green Day concert in “The Pit.” We stood a few rows from Billy Joe Armstrong, on the edge of moshing. Men, and a few women and children were slamming into each other, spinning, flailing, shoving, dancing. When someone went down, a hand and a smile picked them right up. It was intense and fun, an island with its own rules amongst a sea of Madison Square Gardeners.

It makes a nice metaphor for M5’s corporate culture at its best. “Be Honest” can be a trite core value. But when trust levels and passions are high enough, we can have great, productive conflict. People are engaged and saying what they really think, which produces better outcomes. You can’t be afraid to throw an elbow, you have to encourage it. OK, sometimes it pushes up against the line, and we’ve had some spectacular fights and even a semi-physical confrontation or two. But I’d take the occasional cursing a hundred times over passionless, boring meetings.

The metaphor works in other ways. Jerks can do a lot of damage in a company, just like in a mosh pit. This buzzed-about presentation on culture from Netflix makes that point well. As does one of my favorite business books – The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. The leadership team, like the band, sets the mood. They can either get people up and engaged without crossing the line, or blow it. There’s a dose of message but a big wave of intensity and celebrating. I always wanted to be a rock star.