I'm in a rock and roll kind of mood today. As a card-carrying member of GenX, I grew up buying flannel shirts for nights out, which means the whole "grunge" scene was driving my fashion sense in college. Looking back, all I was missing was a thick beard and I could have been a double on the set of Grizzly Adams. Good times, but it was hard to look like you were having fun with all the angst in those grunge lyrics.
Over the weekend, I had two rock experiences. First, we finally broke out Guitar Hero for the Xbox, which was a Christmas gift for my sons. After handling Barracuda on "easy" mode, my wife and I headed to the arena for the Jimmy Eat World/Foo Fighters show, which was a blast. From a wellness perspective, it was cool to see that holding up your lighter has been replaced almost entirely by holding up the LED screen of the wireless device of your choice.
One connection to my GenX/grunge days from the night out was Foo Fighters founder Dave Grohl. Grohl hit the rock/grunge scene in 1991 as the drummer for Nirvana, the band that has remained as icon for everything related to grunge. At the time Nirvana was popular, Grohl was an afterthought, dramatically overshadowed by lead singer Kurt Cobain, and his crazy wife, Courtney Love.
Like a big corporation with a famous CEO, Nirvana rocked on and changed the music scene for a couple of years, until the equivalent of the Nirvana CEO, Cobain, committed suicide amidst a struggle with depression and dependency. The band dissolved, minus the leader who had defined them as an organization. Grohl and the other surviving member of the band, Chris Novoselic (bass), went their separate ways. No succession plan there...
Over time, Novoselic and Grohl started
bands organizations on their own. Novoselic's fizzled, but Grohl's project caught fire, with the Foo Fighters ultimately releasing 6 CD's since 1995 and being widely regarded as one of the best rock bands/brands active today.
My point - and there is one - is that Grohl was widely regarded as an afterthought in the initial flagship he contributed to (Nirvana). Overshadowed in life and death by Cobain, Grohl used his skills to reshape his post-Nirvana career and develop an organization/brand deeper, more diversified and ultimately more successful than Nirvana.
So the moral of the story is this - you have a Dave Grohl in your organization right now, a talent deeper and more creative than what's currently in the spotlight. How do you find them and ensure they maximize their potential without having to leave your company? Wouldn't it be cool if you could spot the high potential in your company and do something different with that talent?
Of course, once you find a Dave Grohl, the problem is being brave enough to do something different with the talent. Development of individuals in succession plans is difficult, mainly because as soon as you treat someone differently, you're putting them and everyone else on notice they are on the fast track. That causes hard feelings and politics...
Most organizations don't fight that battle. It's just easier to have everyone wear the same flannel shirt......
(subscribers reading via email or specific readers may need to click through for Foo Fighters clip below)