Three Lessons in Collaboration from the Beatles

 -  4 min read

If you’ve watched all eight hours of the Beatles documentary, Get Back, you’ve had the immersive experience of being a fly on the wall as John, Paul, George and Ringo craft the songs for what would ultimately be their final album.

Watch closely and you’ll also see that the Beatles are, in their own indirect way, imparting important lessons about group collaboration—the principles that allow the best ideas to thrive within teams.

Here are three lessons from Get Back that we can all apply to our own work:

Fab 4 mid session

Build on each other’s ideas.

“Yes and…” is an essential tenet of group brainstorming. Accept a notion offered by another and add something new. In Get Back we watch Paul strum on his bass guitar, searching for a song. Gradually a tune emerges, and his bandmates take notice. George begins to build on Paul’s melody, and Ringo starts clapping a beat. We are watching the spark that ultimately leads to the song “Get Back.” It’s not a eureka moment; there are still many days of hard work ahead. But by building on a moment of inspiration, the group has put itself on a path to a Beatles classic.

Keep an open mind.

It’s easy to reflexively dismiss an idea that may first strike you as silly or dumb. This is why collaborators should withhold judgment when brainstorming new ideas. When Ringo shares a fragment of what he calls his “Octopus song,” everyone in the studio playfully laughs (Ringo included). But then George picks up his guitar and gets to work, offering Ringo ideas for shaping and extending its melody. The resulting song may be a “trifle” by Beatles standards, but “Octopus’s Garden” is an enduring trifle that nearly everyone can sing today.

Bring in a fresh perspective.

Creating anything new can be a hard slog. There will be moments when you feel drained of inspiration, or so close to your work that you lose perspective. It can even happen to the Beatles. After days of laboring over their new set of songs, the group invites keyboardist Billy Preston to their studio. Fresh eyed and relaxed, Billy is able to sit at his organ and make a vital contribution. Suddenly the songs sound new again to the band, and their attitude brightens. At the right moment, an outsider’s perspective rejuvenated the entire project. 

There are many such moments of joy, anguish and discovery throughout the documentary. More than anything, Get Back reinforces that coming together to create something new is hard work. However, as we’ve always known at 88 Brand Partners, if you let the core tenets of successful collaboration guide you, the results will be fruitful and rewarding.