If rock groups are businesses, businesses are getting more like rock bands. Workplaces are far more informal than they used to be, with less emphasis on protocol, rank and authority. Many firms try to cultivate the creativity that can come from close collaboration. Employers attempt to engineer personal chemistry, hiring coaches to fine-tune team dynamics and sending staff on team-building exercises. Employees are encouraged to share lunch, play table tennis and generally hang out. As the founder of Hubble, a London office-space company, put it, “We hope that our team will become friends first, and colleagues second.”
Businesses have also acquired a patina of rock-star glamour, particularly those in Silicon Valley. Friends who once gathered in garages to thrash out songs on guitars and drums are now as likely to get together to brainstorm ideas for apps and dream of having their success lauded in the press as they receive billion-dollar exits. Garry Tan, a former founder who now manages a San Francisco venture-capital fund, told me, “A startup is like a jam band. You need a drummer, and someone says, ‘Oh I went to school with a drummer’.” Next thing you know, your future is bound together with the people you got drunk with in university bars or played Fortnite with after school according to The Economist.