Reinventing collaboration when the band goes online

Marcio S Galli
4 min readJan 14, 2021

It’s not always evident how the environment contributes to a team’s productivity. Imagine that you are a guitarist that earned your place in a new band. If the band has ten shows ahead, that means a lot to you in terms of focus. Besides schedule, consider the various elements that may influence everyone to be productive — rehearsals, performance, audience, live footage, interviews, and a lot more.

Thanks to Nathan Nichols for sharing their work on Unsplash.

But what happens when the team’s environment is suddenly replaced? This is certainly one of the scenarios of how our modern world is adapting after COVID-19. In this new reality, teams are forced to collaborate in the online space to get their existing work done. This sudden jump makes it difficult for teams to grasp the situation, to perform as usual. Worse it is to consider improving the productivity.

What is even move complex is that, for many people, the pandemic sort of forced online work as in a plan B waiting for everything to go back to plan A. In this situation many team are not learning much about how they could improve online.

Of course, there are conditions and teams that are being able to understand and improve how they collaborate online. This is the case of Mr. Dam band — a team of 4 that had learn how to collaborate online in new ways. Like many bands, they were forced to work from home and come up with interesting projects that could be done at home. One of their project had to do with an experience that they refer to as collab — check the following video and you will get an idea of their output:

Mr. Dam band split-screen collab effort — from Ribeirao Preto Brazil

It’s impressive how their production looked professional, considering that they did on their own and how new they were with the process. But more impressive — and the point here — was their ability to do the work collaboratively and asynchronously.

The real meaning of collab was about their ability to coordinate and manage their work in a whole new environment — from home. The *new thing* in their process is that these four musicians had to dive into a different collaboration process. Yes, they were familiar with some professional techniques — studio environment, post-production systems, and more. However, a significant challenge consisted of maintaining their level of productivity when everybody was working from home.

According to Marco, the drummer and band’s CEO, one of the major challenges was that everyone had too many other activities going on. The problem was aggravated as COVID-19 pushed them to do more activities online.

His concern resonated with the notion of the start-up enemy recognized by Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky:

And I think the enemy of a start-up is everyone else’s life. It’s true. You have a life, and you have vacations, and you have conferences, and you go away, and you do other stuff, and it’s like, that’s the enemy of start-up. You know, Paul Graham used to say, “Start-ups don’t die, they just fade away.” Brian Chesky @ (Greylock, 2015, 21min19sec)

So it wasn’t as simple as — let’s go digital. Although they could join the collab movement in a hurry, they took a more professional attitude. In the end, their patience with the process yielded better results. With time and dedication, they allowed their new team identity to be revealed.

These musicians became proud of their process of work. They uncovered more about themselves in the face of the new approach. As a team, they have engaged themselves to lower the willpower effort that was much higher in the online medium. Keep in mind how much more comfortable and engaging it would be for a professional band in terms of focus when they can work in a studio or play in a festival.

But once they have decided to work — remotely — they found a coworking model that energized their ability to work. Now they know — they can effectively work remotely in the sense of composing and collaborating online as a team.

For this band, and the many teams out there, it’s clear that COVID-19 didn’t bring new remote teamwork solutions overnight. The strangeness in the air is the unfortunate reality where not many will have time to experience and learn what is going on. This band’s approach to it reminded us that teams could have options beyond merely digitalizing their work or dismissing the whole movement. With patience and committed effort, teams can better experiment to work online, better learn what is going on, and seek better opportunities.

Thanks to Jorge Olive, the bass player in this story, for his presentation related to the process. Additional thanks to Marco for his contribution to the qualitative interview. Thanks to Mr.Dam! Check the canonical version of this article at my personal web site.

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