Lessons From Get Back

The new Beatles documentary from director Peter Jackson offers a masterclass on creativity and collaboration. What lessons can marketing leaders draw from this deep dive into the Fab Four at work? Let’s take a moment to pause and reflect.

Get Back is no ordinary rock doc. Unfolding over 468 minutes, it offers an in-depth glimpse into one of history’s most successful creative teams at work. Putting aside the incredible music and extremely colourful fashion, the film also is jam-packed with useful lessons on creativity and collaboration.

  • Lesson 1: Negotiation is always part of collaboration. As Variety’s Chris Willman observes in his excellent review of Get Back: “Most music performed by a group is the product of constant, gracious compromise.” The same is true of any collaborative undertaking.
  • Lesson 2: Creativity is hard, messy work. There’s a lot of messiness and mistakes on the way to that iconic rooftop concert. As comedian Tim Heidecker puts it: “Nothing comes out of the oven fully baked without it cooking.”
  • Lesson 3: Reaching for an audacious goal can be inspiring. The Beatles set out to write and rehearse 14 new songs in a few weeks. Their ambitious goal created some mild panic—but also yielded tremendous results.
  • Lesson 4The road to good runs through bad. The Beatles were not afraid to sound terrible on the road to greatness. This kind of fearlessness “removes the pressure to be perfect, which can absolutely cripple creativity”.
  • Lesson 5: Make room for play. The sheer amount of goofing off in Get Back is surprising (and very entertaining). The Beatles were the biggest band in the world, but they didn’t take themselves too seriously. And they used laughter to lighten the mood and strengthen bonds.
  • Lesson 6: New blood can change the energy. When master keyboardist Billy Preston shows up, the vibe shifts instantly and the results are magical. Dropping a “guest star” into any creative group can have the same effect.
  • Lesson 7: Revisit old ideas. Under time pressure to write new material, the Beatles often revisited ideas from years before. If you’re stuck for new ideas, try revisiting old ones and seeing if they can be refined or added to in the current context.
  • Lesson 8: Everyone has a role to play. Throughout Get Back, the importance of Ringo’s role becomes clear. He’s not leading the charge, but he’s the glue that holds the rest of them together. Quiet, attentive and ready to pounce when inspiration hits. Who’s the Ringo in your group of collaborators?

John’s Best of 2021

While we’re on the subject of music, our very own John Ounpuu has compiled his annual playlist of the year’s best songs (in his highly subjective opinion). If you’re looking for new sounds, give it a stream on Spotify or Apple Music.

Issue #133
Dec 16, 2021

Further Reading