Which of the following decisions would you have made? Which would you have dared to let a subordinate even suggest in a meeting?
- Make an album with a theme entirely about alienation.
- Once successful, incorporate avant-garde electronic music, Krautrock and jazz influences. (Ignore the fact that critics will later call it a “commercial suicide note”, and “intentionally difficult”. You wouldn’t have known that when you decided.)
- Quit your record company and tell the press about it “the time is at hand when you have to ask why anyone needs one”
- Sell your next album as a digital download. The price? Whatever the customer cares to pay. Including nothing.
- Make a music video without cameras, which no one has ever done before.
Radiohead made all the above decisions. The band (and their brand) remain hugely successful.
Hundreds of other bands have made safe, sane decisions. Fully supported by market research. Deemed correct by conference rooms full of MBAs.
These bands failed miserably.
Before you pass this off as just rock and roll, ask yourself — would you have approved the iPod, knowing it was unlike any previously successful MP3 player? Would you have dared venturing into the mobile phone business like the iPhone, departing from so many time-honored conventions of that business?
How far have you strayed from your comfort zone, lately? Have you accomplished anything remarkable?
Are you even still trying?