What Smokey Robinson and Motown can teach corporate America

Find a new groove and improve company morale with Smokey

Smokey Robinson is unquestionably one of the best and most wondrous voices in all of rock and roll, R&B, and blues. He is a true icon, poet, songwriter, intellectual, leader, and epic to behold on stage. In a recent article published on the Huffington Post, Smokey told H.P., how the song “My Girl” became one of the first hits for Motown and started a brilliant string of smash hits.

Smokey explains that the intention of the song was not about a girl but the idea of sharing his talent and gifts with other musicians [The Temptations, David Ruffin] and Motown for the good of everyone involved. The idea was more about sharing for the greater good over the importance of self. Sure, top brass asked Smokey to get some hits, however, the notion of doing something to benefit everyone was Smokey’s primary goal explains:

“I always was so happy whenever I got a hit record on one of the artists,” Smokey says. “They were my brothers and sisters. If I could do something to enhance their career and make things better for them, that made me happy.” [source]

Moreover, the article explains Motown’s management and their collective idea that if you wanted to work with any artist…you could. The idea of sharing for the greater good was equally as important and doing good for all involved. Music by its very nature is the oldest, greatest and most internationally known form of communication. It is no surprise that musicians and those involved in the business were the leaders way ahead of their time.

Motown produced some of the most influential, important, classic, brilliant, and rocking artist and groups in the history of music. The likes of Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, The Temptations [my personal favorite], Stevie Wonder [another favorite], Michael Jackson, and many others.

So what can corporate American learn from Motown? The immeasurable benefits of cooperation across departments to improve workflow, communication, and production is a start. The importance of sharing individual and teams skills for the greater good of the entire organization and the realization that work should not be a four letter word. If you want to make great music it takes a full band of individuals to make that music shine and move the soul. This can absolutely be applied to big business. We just have to say, “YES!”

We spend over 60% of our lives working. Not for he good of mankind but for revenue, a board of directors, faceless shareholders, and the bottom line. So how about we take a few pages out of the most successful label in rock and roll? How about we start to share with one another. How about we work with each other as a team instead of backbiting and internal sabotage for that next promotion. It is time we learn to enjoy what we do [possibly for the first time in history]. It is time we realize we are all humans and we are truly in this together. Let’s drop the beat, pick up the mic, sing loud, and kick out the jams. Sounds a hell of a lot better than pulling another 9 to 5.