collaborating like a DJ

I have always been extremely interested in organizational design. Trying to answer the question of what is the most optimal way to organize people such that we maximize things like coordination effectiveness is a puzzling problem. Puzzling both because it is hard but also because I sometimes ask myself: “how have we not solved this yet?” There are of course rational answers to this question—but it feels like the *prize* for solving the “how should we most optimally organize humans to create sustainable progress” is so damn large that ~people (broadly) should be more invested (aka there should be more research, more money, and more time spent) in figuring this stuff out.

I have really only ever worked in one industry—what is called the “technology industry.”

As a total aside, I wonder if we will look back on the naming for the industry as inherently limiting and weirdly marketed. You would think that in the future all companies will incorporate technology at least in some capacity. Well, you would think that they ~already do. Anyways, not that important but still another example where the richness of language may be inherently limiting (and actually have real downstream implications on culture and society).

So as part of my broad exploration, I have spent time trying to understand how organizations organize outside of *the way tech people do it*. I am doing this because it is A) interesting and B) likely to me that the tech industry is actually not a particularly great role model / benchmark for the prompt of “how should humans organize themselves?” I would double down on this latter point in MANY capacities to the extent that I think the tech industry has not created many strong role models (for learning, basically anything about human coordination).

So one thing I have been thinking about recently is in understanding how “creative geniuses” organize themselves in different industries.

For instance, in industries like architecture or academia or biotech—you broadly find creative geniuses fall into small teams of sorts, where they “manage” (in a rather tops down manner) about 5-15 people. These labs rarely collaborate with one another—and instead each team is somewhat like an experiment of its own, hoping to produce something great.

One industry that feels extremely interesting to me is music. It is extremely common for musicians to collaborate with one another—to feature each other on a song or hop in the studio and co-produce a beat together.

Why does this style of collaboration only really take place today in music?

Surely there are other industries you may be able to think of but the one that comes to mind for me is music because HOW COOL IS IT WHEN DJs and RAPPERS collaborate with one another?

Like…when they hop in the studio and just seem like they are vibing together and producing ~greatness?

How cool is that?

They are coming together for sometimes even just one moment. With very little or no built in chemistry. With no explicit rules for the culture. They just being themselves.

And they come together, and sometimes it is implicit not even explicitly articulated, but they come together and produce MAGIC.

What if more industries were like this?

What if, because I was a really good software engineer, my career was more like a DJ, and I could just pop in and out of interesting projects?

Or if I were a really good marketer, I could think about linking up with friends on all sorts of projects?

What if you thought of your career more like a DJ thinks theirs? What would the impact of that be? How would you think about it?


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