The team’s challenges of collaboration in the face of a new working environment - startup management


  • Summary — This text is part of a study about startup culture formation, I am considering how founders (or originator of cultural habits) need to struggle to discover their new form of work when they decide to enter a new space.

  • Participants: Marcio S Galli, Jorge Oliveira (Mr.Dam), Mr.Dam the Band.

  • Text language: en-us
  • Tags: Leadership, Culture, Collaboration, Team work

  • Document status: Copyright, draft.

As the team moves to a new online medium, as they want to innovate, they must conquer their ability to effectively work remotely.

It’s not always evident how the environment contributes to a team’s productivity. For example, imagine that you are a guitarist that just earned your place in a famous band. If the band has ten shows scheduled, that means a lot to you in terms of focus. Think about the many elements that keep the beat and allow everyone to be productive — rehearsals, performance, audience, live footage, interviews, and a lot more.

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 the face of a new reality, some industries are forced to interact with an increased audience demand in the online space. But this sudden jump to the online makes it difficult for teams to grasp the situation. Worse it is to consider how to improve productivity when things simply go virtual. In this new environment, many groups may even dismiss the learning effort and wait until things go back to normal.

In this essay, I will bring the case of a band that, like many others, had to adapt to the new online environment. But unlike many others, they were able to improve their performance as online collaborators. The situation that sparked this writing came about when a bass player told me about a new experience that his band got involved in. It’s something known as a collab.

Straight to the case, the collab effort is basically the magic that brought them to produce their version for Mr.Dam Collab - I Write Sins not Tragedies.

Initially, I have assumed that the main point about their collab had to do with the split-screen aspect like this one made by Mr. Beaker. But as I learned more, and interviewed the band, I understood what was really behind.

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 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, and such.

But 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 significant challenges was the number of activities going on with their lives. This problem was aggravated as COVID-19 pushed them to do many 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 and do this collab thing. Well, at least not for them. When I first learned about their project, I thought that their primary problem had to do with the barrier of recording from home. But after learning the basics, I knew it was a thing of the past — a recent history anyway. So yes, a regular band would generally be worried about recording from their homes. But that challenge was solved by the market with the help of first movers. It takes no search effort to see the movement’s magnitude — see Bon Jovi — It’s My Life (Live from Home 2020).

For them, stranger than these strange days was the new norm where bands were flooding their audiences with low-quality collab videos. They realized that they didn’t want to digitalize themselves over the weekend.

Although they could join the movement in a hurry, they took a more professional attitude instead. In the end, their patience with the process yielded better results. They also didn’t dismiss the movement — what many good bands may have done anyway.

Their approach to it consisted of entering this “lower-bar game” to explore the category of work. But as they engaged, they allowed room for their identity to be revealed with more time and dedication. With that, they pursued their objective, which involved working more, dedicating more, working collaboratively, and aiming a better collab video.

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 bar that was much higher in the online medium. Keep in mind how much more comfortable and engaging it is for professional bands to focus on their studio or at the show’s settings.

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 from 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 Oliveira, the bass player, for his presentation related to the process. Additional thanks to Marco and Mr.Dam! team for their contribution to the qualitative interview.


  • Maslow, Abraham H., (1998). Maslow on Management. John Wiley & Sons, Inc, New York, NY USA.

Marcio é um empreendedor com interesse em inovação, empreendedorismo, cultura e gestão. Formado em ciências da computação, Marcio fez seu estágio de graduação no Vale do Silício em uma das empresas que marcaram a história da Internet (Netscape Communications). Posteriormente mudou-se para o Vale do Silício trabalhando para Netscape / America Online, Yahoo! e posteriormente ao voltar ao Brasil, para a Mozilla Corporation (criadores do navegador Firefox). Antes de se tornar empreendedor e consultor, Marcio pôde colaborar com vários departamentos como marketing, inovação, engenharia e em times de documentação e evangelismo. Se tornou autor de patentes internacionais e gosta de estudar e escrever para os futuros empreendedores e gestores. Marcio é apaixonado por comunicação, negócios, tecnologia e cultura. Alguns dos seus livros preferidos são High Output Management, Conscious Business, The Hard Things about Hard Things, Maslow on Management, The Startup of You, The Alliance, Zero to One, dentre outros.

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