Heavy Metal Management Style, anyone?

by Hans-Olov Öberg on January 22, 2013

KK 93 ENG Cove single pageAre we off our rockers? How is it that two seasoned business professionals – one an ex-investment banker, the other a venture capital hotshot – decides to reinvent the field Management Literature by launching a Heavy Metal Management book?

To kick things off, let us give a very tedious example of where we stand today:

The Head of Finance at a nameless, megaboring corporation threw a grand Christmas party for all his asset management employees. After a beautiful boat trip through the Stockholm archipelago, complete with all the booze the staff could drink, spirits were soaring as the venerable boss—coincidentally born in 1942, the same year as former Black Sabbath front man Ronnie James Dio—climbed a chair (a chair, for crissakes!) to give his troops the annual company speech.

Speech on chairA tedious recap of the past year’s hardships began. It was a rambling and verbose speech that quickly soured the audience. Unsurprisingly, throats dried and smiles vanished. Boredom had all but taken a firm grip on the crowd when finally, as the mighty culmination of the speech arrived, the fiery, troop-encouraging finale went like this: “ … and therefore, I really hope … that next year … we might get … some more … resources … to make that year … maybe … not as bad as this year was, anyway. Cheers, and thanks to all for a great effort.”

A few years later, this huge corporation farmed out its asset management to a competitor and the old boss disappeared into retirement, never to be seen again.

Does the above make you want to vomit? Are you perhaps possessed with the idea of delivering the exact opposite? Are you open to new methods of reaching and surpassing your goals? Great, congrats! Then Heavy Metal Management might just be the answer to your satanic prayers.

Heavy Metal GuitaristHeavy metal has existed as an art form for almost fifty years now. During this period, the best and brightest have—despite cutthroat competition and extremely low barriers to entry—created global brands from four chord progressions that otherwise might be considered trivial to play. Astonishingly, most businessmen haven’t even begun to learn from the great Heroes of Metal. Why, oh why?

Irrespective of how small or huge our businesses may be, there is tons to learn from the likes of James Hetfield and Metallica, Steve Harris and Iron Maiden, Lemmy Kilmeister and Motörhead, or Ronnie James Dio.

These gentlemen (for the upper echelons of metal are just as male-dominated as the upper crust of the business sector) have consistently delivered the goods decade after decade. They have overcome conflicts, competitors, rip-offs, a non-understanding society, gigantic shifts in popularity and trends, new forms of distribution, and snobby critics who have proclaimed them defunct and forgotten many times. These Defenders of Rock have managed to retain their core crowds and attract new followers. The business leaders who can claim anything near this level of success are surprisingly few.

So why would Heavy Metal be a great foundation for business success? Need we say more than:

  1. Strategic positioning
  2. Branding
  3. Client Management
  4. Organization
  5. Perseverance

A heavy metal perspective gives you new, unique insights into how your business is actually doing.

  • Are you – and all your employees 190% committed?
  • Are you masters of your craft?
  • Is your storytelling alive and EPIC?

Would you describe your client relations as instinctive, rather than driven by intellectual factors?

And… are you into what you do – all that you actually stand for – for the long run?

If not, how would you ever get your clients and employees to wear a company T-shirt?

PentragramThese and other equally pivotal questions are addressed in our recent book, Heavy Metal Management – including our soon-to-be highly acclaimed “Heavy Metal Management Pentagram Model” that paradoxically provides an analytical framework for a management style that is anything but analytical.

If you’ve ever experienced true heavy metal and seen it performed in front of a frenzied, enthusiastic crowd, you know the feeling. It’s magic to hear thousands of voices in unison shouting with demonic passion as their favorite band takes the stage and greets the assembled head bangers. If you close your eyes, you might even feel the warmth of the guys standing right next to you, the scent of summer grass, diesel, molten lava and gun-smoke. Oh yeah—and the contraction in your groin when that tune starts up. It’s heavy metal, front and center!

HeavyMetalManagementBecause basically, it’s about this: who gives a shit about “satisfied clients” and “capable and amply motivated employees” when you can have “raving motherfucking fans” and “band mates from hell” instead?

The authors of this book have a lifelong relation with heavy metal, as well as 50 years cumulative experience as management consultants with McKinsey & Co, investment bankers with Deutsche Morgan Grenfell, business writing, asset managers and venture capital investors. We might have changed careers a few times during all those years, but the love of heavy metal has been there all the while, like the perpetual evil laugh at the gates of hell…or something like that.

There are bosses. There are leaders, And then there are Managers From Hell!

This is where you get the chance to claim the stage and step into the Management Hall of Heavy Metal Fame.

About Hans-Olov Öberg :

Judging from my CV, I 'm a financial analyst with knowledge of a wide array of business industries and geographies, including Sweden, US generalist, Financial Services specialist, IT-industry specialist, engineering industry specialist.

However, having been there and done more than that for 20 years + since business school, I would actually label my primary field of expertise "research driven financial rethorics". Go figure!

Currently runs the publishing house Kalla Kulor (a hilarious pun in Swedish) as well as engaging in financial strategy advisory work for carefully selected clients.

Also columnist in daily newspapers and author of, so far, nine novels of suspense, the biography on jazz group e.s.t "A Strange Tale", ( as well as a number of subversive, satiric pamphlets, picture books, tattoo guides and more) and a decent musician, belting out assorted blues novelties with Crash & Burn Blues Band.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jörgen Eriksson Jörgen Eriksson February 15, 2013 at 18:29

Yesterday Harvard Business Review recognized and commented on the book in the “Morning Advantage” blog.

http://blogs.hbr.org/morning-advantage/2013/02/morning-advantage-heavy-metal.html

Savannah Baxter June 27, 2013 at 07:29

Great info. Lucky me I discovered your site by accident (stumbleupon).. I’ve book-marked it for later!

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