Why Bass Players Are Good Project Managers

By January 6, 2014blog

I had a great talk with Erik at DARE2013 in June, not just about agile or lean, but about music. We both are bass players and project managers. And it somehow occured to us that there is a strong correlation between characteristics of a good project manager and the abilities of a great bass player.

bass players project managers

Bass Players and Project Managers Pull Strings

And that’s not the only thing they have in common.

  • When the bass player in a band suddenly stops collaborating, you’ll notice immediately. Although you don’t know what is happening, you feel intuitively that something is missing. The same is true for a project manager. Teams can work perfectly without a PM, but as soon as the guide drops during the project, things feel awkward.
  • PMs and bass players shine in the shades. They’re not at the front of the stage, but out of the spotlights where they feel at their best. They wear no crowns and win no glory.
  • When a bass player screws up and makes a mistake this has really bad consequences. Harmony is gone completely and the thing just doesn’t feel right anymore, just like when the project manager hits the wrong note.
  • PM’s don’t (usually) seek attention, but stay in the background. There’s nothing more annoying than a soloing bass player. (The ultimate worst is a bass guitar slap solo)

  • Good bass players and project managers are team players by default.
  • A good bass player knows when not to play a note. A good pm should know when not to interfere and let his team self regulate and take responsibility.

Any other similarities? Let me know!

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • I think this applies to drummers too .. 🙂
    I’ve been using music analogies for some years now and it never lets me down. Another one I often use is “jamming” vs “songwriting”. Some of the greatest bands had clear leaders & songwriters. Nowadays, everybody wants to co-create (= jam), often with very mixed results. Both are good, but have their own set of rules & consequences.. Cheers.

  • stenito says:

    I’m a bass player too and used to be a project manager.
    Bass players practice, learn and never give up learning new techniques. Becoming better at playing is for their own satisfaction and drive.
    But stating that there’s nothing more annoying than a soloing bass player and that the ultimate worst is a bass guitar slap solo… Oh Bart!
    Vistor Wooten learned to play the bass at young age by watching his brothers playing jazz on guitar and imitating them on the only electric guitar left to play, the bass.
    Take a look at this video from 2:40 on… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpMeebtwXB4
    Victor Wooten, Jaco Pastorius (watch this from 6:40 on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cw9wsh9yj6M) and Flea are my inspiration.
    Bass solo’s are cool and make a good bass player knows how to play a solo but knows how to stay cool too!

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