Search for a Star

Blondie

Call me to join the band 07725 927585

Today we have an update on the development of “Rock In The City” – a rock band I formed with Dr Andrew Sentence, former Monetary Policy Committee Member at The Bank of England and now Senior Economic Adviser for PwC. Here’s some clips of the band taken from our first performance at a garden party in summer:

Now we have got the basics right, our next goal is to develop the musical dynamics and performance capabilities of the band.  We are therefore looking for a female or male singer with gusto to add sparkle and glow to our performance. We are planning a number of corporate performances in the City of London and these will attract press attention. Is it you we’re looking for?

Give me a call and I’ll fill you in with the details.

In search of a Prince or Princess

In search of a Prince or Princess?

Rock in the City - Logo design by Simon Heath @SimonHeath1

Rock in the City – Logo design by Simon Heath @SimonHeath1

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About the Author:  Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Keynote events with a difference and Human Dynamics – Business and organisation development, training and coaching.  Contact via 07725 927585

Business Lessons from Music

Top of the Pops

Top of the Pops

I’m off to give a conference in Estonia today where I’ll be giving a run down of 10 top tips about business from the parallel universe of music.  To mark the occasion, here’s the first in a series of posts containing bite size tips about business from music.  I’ve reframed the song titles in a creative way, sometimes outrageously so, to suggest some enduring business tips taken from the world of music rather than the longer winded approach of the business school.  Take a look:

This is part of a book I’m releasing soon.  Drop me a line at peter@humdyn.co.uk for details.

TOTP

TOTP

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About the Author:  Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Keynote events with a difference and Human Dynamics – Business and organisation development, training and coaching.  Contact via peter@humdyn.co.uk or +44 (0) 7725 927585.

Seven Deadly Event Management Sins

I spend a lot of my time delivering conference keynotes and events. In a couple of weeks I’m off to Estonia to speak at a conference and later in the month speaking on innovation at Pfizer. This gives me a unique perspective on event design and management from the front of the stage rather than the back. I must say that I’m impressed with the meticulous detail that many event companies use to deliver exceptional events. However, I thought it might be instructive (and fun) to pick out some “deadly sins” from my 20 years of doing this kind of thing as a kind of “reverse set of instructions” on what not to do to get the best from your speakers and presenters.

Don’t Tax your Speakers – I was astonished to get a call from HM Revenue and Customs a while back, asking me to speak on “Punk Rock and Disruptive Innovation”.  All was well until I enquired:

“What are the commercial terms?” 

The event sponsor said:

“I’m not sure what you mean”

I replied:

“How much are you paying me?”

He explained:

“Ah well, our Finance Director has said that it is not our policy to pay external people for events”

I pondered momentarily but then felt compelled to reply:

“Ah, well it’s not my policy to attend then”

Money goes in but none comes out ...

Money goes in but none comes out …

It’s not the real thing – Many years ago I was approached at short notice by an event manager who had to fill a slot at a conference for a well-known caffeine based carbonated soft drink company’s conference, was taking place in five days. She called and said “We want Rock’n’Roll Management next Tuesday between 11.30 and 12.30.  We’ve got a budget of xx thousand pounds. Can you do that?” I asked her to give me some basic details as to what the conference was for, how they would judge my input a success and what was expected as an outcome, but no answers came, apart from a more stern repeat of the request. I politely declined after trying to ask to speak to the sponsor, but she said he was too busy. Whilst it would have been lovely to present to a large group of people from the said company, without a solid brief, it would be bad work for all concerned, however attractive the fee. Of course I understand urgency but it still was important to find out the need rather than just filling the time slot.

Smoke on the Water – One of the strangest events I spoke at was in Sweden. I was asked to speak on parallel lessons between business leadership and music and, on this occasion, the event organiser had decided it might be fun to take the ‘rock’ part of my presentation to its ultimate end point. Just as I was to start the session and completely unannounced (in order to surprise me), they had arranged for a smoke machine to pump out tons of fog into the hotel venue whilst the Deep Purple classic “Smoke on the Water” was played at full volume over the PA system. The ‘fogging people’ took their job very seriously and, for the next 10 minutes the 150 executives were invisible, as their heads bobbed around in a sea of smoke. Needless to say I had to shoulder the blame for this as it would be a natural assumption that I had requested the pyrotechnics as part of my contract. Internally, I was not amused. Nor were they. The best I could do at the time was to point out that leadership was all about handling ambiguity and the unknown and that this was sometimes like wading through fog …

My view of the audience ...

My view of the audience …

Avoid Premature Evaluation – We all love voting technology and apps at conferences, but I’ve spotted a worrying trend amongst busy people. They tend to vote on sessions almost as soon as they have started. This is what HR professionals and sex therapists call “Premature Evaluation”. The impact of some speakers / events cannot be assessed until long after people have had time to reflect and apply the lessons. The use of technology tends to reduce evaluation to fairly trivial “Like / Dislike” choices. Event people would do well to study the work of Kirkpatrick in this area to design meaningful evaluation strategies.

Write to me with your top three to make the Full Seven Deadly Sins of Event Management and I will publish them in an update.

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Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics, offering better Organisation Development, Training and Coaching. He offers keynotes that blend World Class Leadership Thinking with the wisdom of the street via The Academy of Rock – where Business Meets Music. Author of seven books on Business Leadership, acclaimed by Tom Peters, Professors Charles Handy, Adrian Furnham and Harvey Goldsmith CBE.

The “F” Word – Leadership Lessons from Failure

This Saturday September 06 I am presenting at The Institute for Contemporary Music Performance on the subject of failure. It’s a word that managers fear, yet any successful leader or entrepreneur will usually have failed a few times if they are talking honestly about success. The lecture offers practical lessons about entrepreneurship, strategy, creativity, project planning, team leadership and execution of your strategy for people trying to do new things, via the medium of a case study. Before you ask, NOOO, it’s not your usual dull business case study!!  Read on and check out the full conference at ICMP

Failure and Success - The truth

Failure and Success – The truth

Some years ago, I sponsored an audacious plan to circumnavigate the world on a rock’n’roll tour, performing at the greatest venues on the planet and taking your audience with you. I invested nearly £50 000 of my life savings in order to help my friend John Otway to advance the enterprise forward. Alas, my involvement came too late and despite achieving a temporary turnaround in fortunes, it was not enough to recover the situation and I most the money and about 6 months effort in an attempt to help John realise his dream. I dubbed the project, “The Real Spinal Tap Tour”.  Take a look at the promo video for the tour to get a flavour of the ambition:

Like most business enterprises, the John Otway World Tour was a GREAT idea, poorly EXECUTED.  It is never enough to have a great idea in business. Meticulous execution skills are needed to bring the idea into existence and I will explore the successes, near misses and downright catastrophes that led to the eventual meltdown of the project.  To whet your appetite, here are a few stunning facts about the tour:

A comedy of errors...

A comedy of errors…

Our presentation is available in your company with parallel lessons for businesses. We are also available to help you avoid similar flights of fancy or to turn difficult corners in your own projects. For the moment, here is the magical moment that started John Otway’s career, when he fell off an amplifier on The Old Grey Whistle Test, injuring vital parts. This is a stunt which Otway has developed in his career ever since, including our performance at Pfizer:

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Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics, offering better Organisation Development, Training and Coaching. He offers keynotes that blend World Class Leadership Thinking with the wisdom of the street via The Academy of Rock – where Business Meets Music. Author of seven books on Business Leadership, acclaimed by Tom Peters, Professors Charles Handy, Adrian Furnham and Harvey Goldsmith CBE.

Funk’n’Soul – An exclusive interview with George Clinton

The Godfather of Psychedelic Funk jamming it out at Kentish Town

The Godfather of Psychedelic Funk jamming it out at Kentish Town

I had the extraordinary pleasure of conducting a film interview with George Clinton at The Forum in London recently. Check out the film further down this article. In case you are not familiar with the legend that is George Clinton, here is a brief bio below: George Clinton was the principal architect of the genre of music that has come to be known as P-Funk, via his ensembles Parliament and Funkadelic. He is cited as one of a triad of most influential innovators in funk music alongside James Brown and Sly Stone. His music fused diverse genres such as Motown, The Beatles, Soul, Psychedelia, Classical and many more. Clinton has influenced several generations of musicians since such as The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Prince, Primal Scream, LL Cool J, Digital Underground and Primus. He is widely cited as a major influence on the development of hip hop music. He ranks 2nd on the list of most widely sampled artists. What then can innovators in other fields learn from the CFO (Chief Funk Officer)?

Clinton on synthesis

Clinton is a synthesiser of musical genres, bending, breaking and sometimes smashing musical conventions as to what fits in to a particular genre of music. He loved The Beatles Sargent Pepper and could not see why this could not be fitted into soul and funk music. He loved Jimi Hendrix’s wild guitar playing and could not see why this should not be included into his music and so on. Unlike so many musicians that sit inside a genre, Clinton has been a fearless boundary crosser. This quality is a hallmark of great innovators, as much innovation comes from combination and synthesis of things which others do not see as fitting together. To do this requires not just a tolerance of mistakes but a positive passion for them.

Prince exemplifies the attitude behind synthesis:

“One time, George sends me a tape and says: You pee on it and send it back to me, and I’ll pee on it and we’ll see what we got”

Find out more in the film:

Clinton on dyads

There is a long history of creativity coming from the basic unit of two, or a dyad. In the music world good examples of diverse dyads are Lennon / Mc Cartney, Goffin / King, Simon and Garfunkel etc. In other walks of life we see the same, with James Watson / Francis Crick, who uncovered the structure of DNA; and Socrates / Plato. Often the dyad is successful because individual personality styles are different enough to induce what author and thinker Peter Senge calls “creative tension”. Bootsy Collins provided the essential element of difference / creative tension in George Clinton’s case although his ensembles also contained “engines of difference” by design.

Creativity can become more problematical when we get into large groups due to the complexities of communication that exists in such groups … but not with Mr Clinton …

Clinton on creativity and structure

George also breaks conventional rules of the rock / soul ensemble, which rarely consists of more than seven members, with Clinton sometimes having up to 40 people on stage. Paradoxically, such levels of freedom require an equivalent amount of musical structure / discipline, with musical leadership passing round the band and everyone paying extremely good attention to everyone else in order to deliver a seamless performance. The parallel at work is that you can work effectively in large teams if everyone is ‘in the groove’ and if all have excellent communication skills. It’s what George nonchalantly calls “Tag Team”. If only it were so easy to organise this for everyone else!

Clinton on business

George recently started a project called Flashlight 2013, to highlight the need for musicians, artists and songwriters to own the copyright on their music. This springs from a long history of artists being ripped off by the music business. George Clinton has long thought that musicians need to be more astute in business and finance and the Flashlight project aims to shine the light on some of the things that need to be put right in this area. I must agree, having noticed that artists can be their own worst enemies in this respect. They either dismiss business skills as unimportant or are not able or willing to do the basics in business. They simultaneously whinge about being ripped off by unscrupulous music industry managers. These elements are related of course, although some of my artist friends don’t see the connections, preferring to take the “victim” position …  Check out the Flashlight Page.

Click on the fist to stop exploitation

Click on the fist to stop exploitation

I was delighted to present George with a copy of my book “The Music of Business“, which draws out relevant parallels in business and music. I also passed him a copy of my song for Prince, which is raising money for a Children’s Hospice at the moment. I hope he likes it’s funky tones and cheeky words! To read more on close encounters with George and the mothership, read One Night Alone … with George Clinton and Prince. The Academy Awards video is also well worth a look:

Clinton on the future

George has a book and a new album “First You Gotta Shake The Gate” out in October. Check the website for more details of these as they emerge. If you have never seen the Godfather of P-Funk, then check this performance out at Montreux:

Special thanks to Lois Action of Urban Unlimited for making all the arrangements. To Lee Philips and his team for making the film and Linda Vanterpool for valuable assistance on the night to ensure that our Director did not expire due to his chest condition ! :-)

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About the Author:  Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Keynote events with a difference and Human Dynamics – Business and organisation development, training and coaching.  Contact via peter@humdyn.co.uk 07725 927585

Talkin’ ’bout a Revolution

Going way back in time to the point when I first started doing talks about business and music, here is my deeply ironic translation of the lyrics from The Beatles’ song “Revolution”, reset in the context of the management of change.  It is a great tale of the difference between vision and action.  I’ve set out the original lyrics first and my translations in bold italics!  Admittedly the new lyrics do not scan and that perhaps accounts for why Lennon did not use them …  In case you don’t know the song you young people, here’s a video clip:

VERSE 1

Say you wanna revolution, well, you know

So, you are an advocate of Business Process Re-engineering and radical change

We all wanna change the world

Yeh, that’s what the workers want – creative leadership

You tell me that it’s evolution, well you know

But then you come on with benchmarking and TQM, man

We all wanna change the world

Yeh, we need to reform the bureaucratic paradigm, man

But when you talk about destruction

But when you say we have to drop our existing products

Don’t you know you can count me out 

I’m not sure I wanna be on the project team 

Talkin' 'bout a Revolution

Talkin’ ’bout a Revolution

VERSE 2

You say you’ve got a real solution, well you know

You’ve seen Ricardo Semler and have swiped his vision

 We’d all love to see the plan

Intuition’s fine but I’m not a bloody mind reader 

You ask me for a contribution, well you know

Then you ask me to ‘buy in’ to something I can’t even see

We’re all doin’ what we can

Well, I’m trying but can’t you give me some clear goals? 

But if you want money from people with minds that hate

So if you want the ‘late majority’ to come on board 

All I can tell you brother is you’ll have to wait

You’ll have to do better than a mission statement! 

Beautiful Boy

Beautiful Boy

 VERSE 3

You say you’ve changed the constitution, well you know

You’ve rewritten the KPI’s and the reward strategy

We all wanna change your head

We all wanna change our jobs

You tell me it’s the institution, well you know 

You tell me now that it’s the ‘culture’ and IT systems

You’d better free your mind instead 

You’d better start modelling some change yourself!

But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao 

If you keep bringing in iconic examples of success

You ain’t gonna make it with anyone anyhow 

Chaos theory predicts that we’ll build in further resistance to the change programme

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About the Author:  Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Keynote events with a difference and Human Dynamics – Business and Organisation Development, Training and Coaching. Contact via peter@humdyn.co.uk or +44 (0) 7725 927585.

Global Networks

Nadine Hack, pictured with Jerry Dunfey at The White House on St Patrick's Day

Nadine Hack, pictured with Jerry Dunfey at The White House on St Patrick’s Day

I’m delighted and humbled to be included amongst the exclusive global network of Nadine Hack, Leader of beCause Global Consulting.  Nadine is a thought leader in the area of responsible and sustainable leadership over 30 years and has recently formalised her global network of trusted associates. Take a look at the incredible cast of experts on The beCause Website.

I asked Nadine to explain more.

Peter:  What’s uniquely valuable about this network?

Nadine:  The beCause network is truly global.  We cover The Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and The Middle East, with multilingual, multidisciplinary capabilities.  Our core is represented in this model:

The beCause Core offering

The beCause core offering

The beCause network adds specific capacities in social media, sustainability, conflict resolution, entrepreneurship, executive search, gender equity, design, public relations and much more.

Peter:  What has driven the development?

Nadine: On the one hand, corporates increasingly demand that their partners exhibit size and scale around the world. Whilst we have that size and scale, it is not immediately apparent to some of the people who source our expertise.  The network makes this collective capability visible.  At a purely personal level, I am thrilled to highlight people with the highest integrity and who therefore can make an important contribution to the world in which we are entering, where sustainable business practices and ethical leadership are no longer nice to have, but essentials in a world which badly needs transformational change.

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Peter:  What are your hopes for the network?

Nadine:  I’ve always believed in teams and the power of collaboration.  It’s something that I help my clients achieve within their organizations.  And, I’m proud to model it in my own company by introducing an extraordinary network  of diverse talent from around the world.

For an insight into Nadine’s work take a look at an extract from one of her talks below on sustainable business practice.  This highlights her extensive experience that sustainable business is good business for all concerned.  This is no longer a fringe activity, it is core business as companies like Unilever, Microsoft, Wal-Mart and so on will tell you.  The network has already attracted interest from companies around the world for various services, including one that is interested to develop their leadership capabilities in terms of ethical behaviour around the world, another that wants to develop their social media presence and so on.

For me personally, I’m delighted to be part of such a superb group of collaborators.  As Archimedes said:

“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it and I shall move the world” 

Nadine Hack’s beCause Network offers to multiply Archimedes’ principle many times.

Levers of Change

Levers of Change – Nadine Hack’s beCause Network