Brown M&Ms and the C Hat
While on tour in the 1980s Van Halen instructed stage crews, via a clause embedded in their tour contract, that a bowl full of M&Ms be placed backstage with all brown M&Ms removed. At the time people thought that the band members were acting like frivolous debutants.
In actuality, it was a brilliant strategy to ensure everyone’s safety. Evidently, their stage setup was so elaborate and complex that if the instructions for its assembly were not followed exactly, it could collapse. So, to ensure that the stage crew at each venue read the contract, Van Halen buried a clause in the instructions stating they would not put on the show if brown M&Ms were present.
In this way, the band knew that if the brown M&Ms were removed, the contract was read and the crew was likely to adhere to even the smallest details of the stage construction.
From a DISC style perspective, Van Halen was simply saying, “Put on your C hat.” They wanted to make sure that the crew was acting in a Conscientious manner (consistent with the C DISC style) by being detail oriented and accurate. We all have a C Hat. We also have a D hat, an I hat, and an S hat.
Each one is needed at different times. If the stage crew put on their D or I hats (representing the Dominant and Interactive DISC styles), they would have skimmed the contract and missed the details. This could have resulted in faulty stage construction and its potential collapse. The key is to wear the right hat at the right time.