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Les McKeown's Predictable Success Blog

First published February 24, 2015

What If Your Company Were U2 and You Were in Bono's Shoes? 

A version of this article appeared at Inc.com Over the past couple of weeks we’ve heard more details about the likely impact of U2 lead singer Bono’s bicycle accident in November, and the subsequent surgery he has had to undergo. Apart from igniting a spate of conspiracy theories, the accident and its aftermath did materially impact U2’s business model (U2, like the Rolling Stones and many other once-great musical performers is now more of a highly-monetized brand than a creative entity). A lucrative 2015 tour is threatened, live TV appearances had to be rescheduled, Bruce Springsteen and Coldplay’s Chris Martin had to be pressed into service as last-minute replacements, and (least worryingly of all), Bono may never be able to play guitar again. All of which, of course, ranks as what on Twitter might be defined as #FirstWorldProblems, particularly given that the band has a combined net worth of over $1bn, but there are some serious lessons for any business leader (even if you’re not Bono). Here are a few questions worth taking a morning to answer in writing, in detail, and passing to a trusted advisor for use in the event of your own Bono-bicycle-spill moment: 1. What temporary disability would most impact your ability to manage the business – mobility, hearing loss, visual impairment, something else? This may be morbid to contemplate, but you owe it to your business and yourself to think through. 2. In the event of temporary impairment, what plans are there to triage your diary in the short term? Who does it? How? What are the ground rules? 3. Who’s your Bruce Springsteen or Chris Martin? Who do your fellow executives call on as a stand-in, temporarily? 4. What are the medium-term goals of your business (the equivalent of U2’s 2015 tour) that would be most impacted by your temporary impairment? What plans do you have to cover that eventuality, however broadly defined? 5. As a result of his accident, Bono realized that one thing he does do – play guitar – is in no way an important element in his business’s success. What are you doing in your business that everyone else (your fellow executives, your customers) views as an amateurish personal indulgence? Don’t let your organization’s momentum be thrown off course. Access top strategy secrets from Les McKeown, an Inc. 5000 Honoree and much more, here’s how.

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