Here are the dates of our tour of UK Virgin Money Lounges with Vicky Hamilton, former manager of Guns N’ Roses, Poison and management consultant to Motley Crue. Vicky worked directly for the inflammatory character that was David Geffen, CEO of Geffen Records and Capitol Records during her career and learned at the School of Hard Rocks rather than Harvard Business School. The combination of Vicky’s hard bitten experience and my own distillation of MBA’s makes for a powerful combination. All dates are entirely FREE and run from 3.00 – 4.30 pm.
On each tour date we are also booking business masterminding session where you will gain insights into management of some of the most incendiary people on the planet with transferable value to your own enterprise.
Click to book your place at the relevant Virgin Lounge:
Come lounge and learn from someone who has managed the tantrums, bizarre expectations, dysfunctional behaviours, creativity and hair of these people. I sense she managed this by being something of an equivalent diva herself. Expect fireworks!!
Our latest post for Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group can be found at Fitter, Happier, More Productive. It begins with this question:
We have more access to more data about our health, wealth and happiness than any previous generation. But does more data give us a greater sense of wellbeing?
Well, what do you think?
Shall we ask Tom Waits?
“We are buried beneath the weight of information, which is being confused with knowledge; quantity is being confused with abundance and wealth with happiness”
And the dark thoughts of Radiohead? The song “Fitter, Happier” was described by Yorke as a checklist of slogans for the 1990s, which he considered “the most upsetting thing I’ve ever written”. More than ever, we are bombarded with slogans to live by and we need to be centred in order to cope with modern life.
Thanks to Simon Rose and Greg Watt at Share Radio for an interview on the station, where we discuss Leadership, Innovation, Creativity and Business, both at the individual and corporate level. The interview is available to Listen Again by clicking the picture below:
Check “Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise” with Bloomsbury via this link:
Introducing the wonderful Dawna Jones from Vancouver. Dawna is CEO of From Insight to Action, a change management consultancy which helps individuals, teams and organisations escape from tramline thinking that can become embedded into business cultures. She is author of Decision Making for Dummies and writes for The Huffington Post.
Dawna kindly interviewed me for as part of her online interview series “The Evolutionary Provocateur podcast”, hosted by Management Issues. Take a listen.
She says of change management:
“Over a decade ago, I was facilitating an organizational change initiative which made a lurch forward only to settle back as incremental change. Instantly, I realized that business decision makers and underlying beliefs in the culture weren’t adapting fast enough to match the accelerating ecological, climate and social change. Ten years of research into the science and spirit of human performance (and complex systems) gave me greater insight into how to work with the unknown to create greater creativity and resilience in companies and leaders at every level. Brain science tells us that decisions fall into repetitive ruts unless you actively introduce diverse opinions, reflect to learn from assumptions or take other steps to see from many levels and broaden perspective. Advanced skills to deepen personal and organizational awareness along with simple principles allow greater functionality in complexity. Providing the learning environment to deepen skills personally and collectively is a personal passion of mine.“
I asked Dawna for some insights into her work:
Making Better Decisions
Peter : What are the hallmarks of companies that make great decisions?
Dawna : They tap into both their intuitive intelligence and their collective intelligence. Transparency and trust are central to providing a growth oriented decision making environment where customers and employees contribute to providing the multiple feedback input required to stay alert to changing developments.
They take time out from being busy to reflect and gain perspective. Without that there is limited to no capacity for foresight – to see what’s coming ahead.
They flex their thinking to fit the situation rather than applying analytical thinking for every situation.
They are highly networked, consequently can keep pace with emerging change.
Peter : I love the idea of using their own intelligence and that of others. This triangulates a complex decision, leading to the best possible outcome rather than the lowest common denominator if done with skill. In a busy world, reflection becomes even more important if there is to be foresight.
Making decisions stick
Peter : As we know, it’s one thing making good decisions, quite another to take other people with you. How do you ensure that people follow their decisions? Why is an outsider essential?
Dawna : A decision not followed is a decision not inspired by a shared common goal. When a decision is forced from the top down, and it has a negative impact on those implementing it, it stands to reason that it won’t inspire the energy required for action. An outsider brings in an objective take on the underlying dynamics so the invisible factors, like cultural beliefs in conflict with the direction, can be identified and reviewed rather than dealing with the undertow created when you’re trying to do something different and it conflicts with what’s always been done before. Most often, this kind of conflict surfaces in behaviour and the temptation is to fix the behaviour. It’s a much deeper dynamic going on that someone not immersed in the environment can detect quickly using intuitive insight.
Peter : The concept of undertow resonates strongly with me, reminding me of the lyrics to the song by Suzanne Vega, although clearly the song places a different meaning on the word undertow …. but do we really need an excuse to play a Suzanne Vega song!? 🙂 However, it made me think that the more leaders push, sometimes this produces an equal and opposite reaction from those being ‘pushed’. Leaders must learn to engage and develop collaboration if they want to ‘pull’ instead of ‘push’. There are only a few circumstances when push is of value such as turnarounds and crises. Even then, smart leaders understand that great decisions may come from those closest to the action. You remind me that the outsider sees things that others don’t see and much earlier, allowing an enterprise to correct its decision before it has happened.
Music and the mind
Peter : We talked a lot in the interview you kindly did about music and the mind. Share some of your thinking on the role which music can play in shaping our lives.
Dawna : To me, music is the song of the soul celebrating life in its many emotions. With respect to business, it can serve as a metaphor as you do so well in your work and it can also serve to bring calm to a stressed high pressure environment. Mark Romero’s music, for instance, has the effect of calming and bringing your body into physical coherence meaning you’re able to access your alpha (creativity) state and also gain harmony between the mind and the heart. Certain classical music is used by more enlightened education systems to help students remember their work without needing to exercise recall – That helps those of us have the ability to recall or memorise. None of this has to be set at high volume to work. Low volume works just fine. Music gives us the chance to enrich our creativity (same part of the brain) and stimulate expression.
Peter : I can certainly attest to the memory value of music, having used it over many years to help people excel across a range of circumstances from passing exams to locking in important thoughts into long term memory. I have never visited a country yet where people cannot more or less recite the words to Bohemian Rhapsody, now 40 years old. A pity they don’t always know so much about their company’s mission statements!! 🙂 Having just watched a Queen documentary on television last night it reminded me of attending Hyde Park to see them in 1976 – one truly amazing concert.
Contact Dawna via From Insight to Action if you are interested in making better business decisions. Dawna and I are available for joint projects into 2016 around the world, combining thoughtful Organisation Development with masterclass inputs that blend business ideas with music for maximum engagement and application.
About the Blogger
Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock. Check out our books on Amazon which make excellent seasonal gifts. We are currently booking launch events for Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise, a major new book for 2016 with Bloomsbury, featuring exclusive interviews with Sir Richard Branson and Sir James Dyson.
In our occasional series of posts on the practical aspects of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), here’s a short post on one of NLP’s values, summed up by the phrase:
The meaning of communication is the response you get
This simple phrase is one of the hardest but most useful principles to get on board. Instead of thinking it’s someone else’s fault if they don’t ‘get you’, this NLP principle places the onus on you to vary your communication style to be more influential. the buck rests with you, and if at first you don’t succeed, try something different. Many times we misunderstand each other, as if we are speaking foreign languages:
I say Tomato, you say Tom Ate O, let’s call the whole thing off
In practice, you can use this idea in the following ways:
Try explaining yourself from the other person’s point of view
Explain yourself in the language they would prefer rather than your own preferences. Live inside their world, not yours
Ask them to explain what they don’t understand or accept, then move on from there
We live inside our own skins for much of thIn some cases, no matter hard we try, some people are “on the Central Line” and others “on the Circle” metaphorically speaking … of course there are points at which these tube lines meet … 🙂 Check the 1948 tube map out to think about how you can meet people in a conversation where they are rather than where you are:
Skilled negotiators and influencers understand and use these skills naturally but they can also be learned and refined. Check out our offerings in this area at Human Dynamics or give us a call to set up some NLP master coaching.
Of course some people are just really “hard to read” as illustrated by this cat cartoon from my friend’s cousin, the great Steve Bell – such people make great poker players amongst other life and business skills. More on this in another article to demystify and cut the crap (but not the cats) out of NLP.
We finish with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers on the vexed question of communication excellence:
Human Dynamics offers better business and organisation development, training and coaching. Our sister company The Academy of Rock specialises in cross-disciplinary learning on business and music, delivered through conference keynotes and longer masterclasses.
Do order your copy of the NEW edition of “The Music of Business” – Parallel lessons on Business and Music. Acclaimed by Professor Adrian Furnham and Harvey Goldsmith CBE.
I was delighted to travel to Warsaw to deliver a Leadership Programme in partnership with The Pure Sky Club, Bentley, Lafarge, Businessman Today, Legimi, AntyRadio and Quadrilion Art Gallery. Our agenda was:
The Music of Business – exploring parallel lessons between music and business.
Personal Transformation – delivered by Federico Tonetti, Director General, Lafarge. Lafarge is well known as a manufacturer of cement products but even its business model has been rocked to the foundations by disruptive forces. Federico presented a compelling vision of transformation and explained how it could be translated into a corporate context.
The Mathematics of Trust – delivered by Sebastian Kotow, Quadrilion Art Gallery. Sebastian is a business psychologist with specific interests in management decision making and bias.
Punk Rock People Management – a look at the strategic and practical management of people through the medium of punk rock – shorter, simpler and more authentic business and HR.
The Virgin Way – a look at the Culture and Leadership practices of the Virgin group, informed by the work I’ve done for Virgin in the last year or so.
Plus an exclusive gala dinner at The Pure Sky Club hosted by Paul Cowen, a panel session hosted by Brian Allan and an after party featuring the best Polish rock bands in the capital.
Here’s one of the slide decks from the event and a video from the warm up event at Quadrilion:
I’m most grateful to Brian Allan, Malgorzata Krukowska, Filp Sobieki, Sebastian Kotow and Paul Cowen for arranging everything.
Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock. Author of eight books on leadership and creativity as it applies to business. His latest offerings “Punk Rock People Management” – 2nd Edition and a NEW edition of “The Music of Business” may be ordered now.
A while back, I designed a seminar called “50 Shades of Leadership” for some HR and CIPD people. Before anyone drifts off into the realms of fantasy, the event was about leadership style and not Business Dilemmas, Strategy and Management aka BDSM !! I gather there has been some recent hullabaloo about a film with a similar title to my post so I thought I might as well add to the general level of distraction to the serious business of work at the weekend. But, enough of this frivolity and let’s get it on with some Leadership thinking:
It may be trendy to think that leadership is all about empowerment, but this is just one of the seven styles proposed by Tannenbaum and Schmidt in their Leadership Continuum, ranging from autocratic to empowered leadership. What can we learn from Tannenbaum and Schmidt’s model?
7 Shades of Leadership
1. Leaders need ideally to be adept at using all the styles on the continuum.
2. If they have a deficit in some areas, the next best thing is to hire someone who can deliver the required approach. Better than trying to “fake it”.
3. There are occasions where a “tell” style is appropriate, even if it is not “trendy” in an era where the expectation is to operate towards the right hand side of the continuum. Here’s Tannenbaum and Schmidt’s model as a reminder of the options you have as a leader in any situation.
4. There are other occasions when “empowerment” is either ineffective or downright dangerous. Empowering staff who either don’t know what to do or have no experience of improvisation does not always work when the stakes are high. Paradoxically, empowerment requires strong leadership in terms of creating a shared direction of travel.
5. If you find it hard not to interfere when trying to empower staff, just make sure you are not physically around! Book yourself a holiday or do anything to make it physically difficult to interfere. That does not mean you should not check in occasionally to see how things are going and offer encouragement and coaching if required.
6. If you are trying to use high involvement strategies, remember some people are happy to engage direct, but others may prefer to use remote “nominal” communication mechanisms such as anonymous inputs. Ensure that you enable both means of making suggestions.
7. Do not mix the styles up. For example do not abdicate when you mean to tell people something. Inauthenticity is a killer of leadership credibility.
Just remember that Leadership comes in 50 varieties – well there’s actually only 7 in the model! Use the style that best-fits the situation rather than what’s trendy.
Come along to our Punk Rock Business Event on June 09 in the South East. All kinds of decadent thoughts about leadership, art, business and punk rock will be discussed, but without the use of whips, clips and chains …
Come to our special event on Tuesday June 9th evening in Kent, where I will be speaking on punk rock and disruption and working alongside The Godfather of Punk, Mr Richard Strange. Richard has worked with Jack Nicholson, The Sex Pistols, Martin Scorsese, The Damned, Spandau Ballet, Sophia Loren, Tom Waits, Marianne Faithful, Jarvis Cocker and Damon Albarn, as well as appearing in Harry Potter, Batman, Mona Lisa, Men Behaving Badly, Robin Hood and Gangs of New York. The event will feature keynotes, interviews, film and a cameo music performance of Richard’s work across 38 years from The Doctors of Madness and beyond.
I will be launching the 2nd edition of Punk Rock People Management – my anti-establishment book about the establishment at the event. Expect some irreverent and possibly irrelevant ramblings about the crazy world of work, punctuated by a few punk rock riffs. I will perform some ambient music soundscapes from my basement and may also accompany Richard on a few numbers from his canon of work with The Doctors of Madness.
Tickets are just £10 and strictly limited in numbers via Punk Rock. Get yourself a copy of the ludicrously short but succinct book Punk Rock People Management – A manifesto for faster and better humane relations via The Cultured Llama.
Does your enigma as a leader increase if a sense of mystery surrounds your life? I was thinking about this whilst listening to the BBC broadcast on Prince’s ‘Vault’ of unreleased material today, estimated to be more than 70% of his recorded output.
In case you are not familiar, Prince is thought to write a song every day and is already considered to be capable of releasing albums for many years after his death, achieving some kind of mythical ‘life after death’ status for some of his fans. It’s a quite different approach to that of Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles, where people have struggled to find anything like a catalogue of quality unreleased material.
Undoubtedly, his enigma is a great allure for his fanbase, some of whom would probably do anything to see him. This level of adulation has its downside. My own frustration with the purple genius’ enigma reached its peak when I bought a ticket to one of his aftershows in London some years back, only to find the he had gone directly to Dubrovnik after the main show and had no intention of performing, leaving me cold and tired, walking around London till the early hours. Yes, the billing for these shows did say “Expect the unexpected”, but at that point I felt he had stretched the deal way beyond the promise! I recall he did something similar in Ireland some years back as well and at numerous other locations. Yet, he also occasionally gives ‘random acts of kindness’, such as when I queued for 7 hours to see him in London last year, expecting to pay £70 for the pleasure and then being asked for £10 when I reached the door.
Do the concepts of being mysterious and precocious stretch to modern day leadership in business? I’m sure many of you would expect me to say yes, given my ‘minor obsession’ with music and business parallels, but this is one area where I have to say no. Here’s three things you should not ‘copy and paste’ from Prince’s example as a leader and two that you might:
Finally, here’s the song from my ‘vault’ that I wrote for Prince, in support of the charity Autism Rocks. Download your copy now via Bandcamp and tell your friends. Also a picture of Prince’s spiritual Godfather Mr George Clinton of Parliament after his tour of The Houses of Parliament last week when I caught up with him. I’m off to see George if anyone wants to join me in London on April 15th at Kokos with Dr Andrew Sentance and a special guest.
Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics – better Business and Organisation Development, Training and Coaching. He offers keynotes that blend World Class Leadership Thinking with parallel lessons from the world of music via The Academy of Rock.
Author of eight books on Business Leadership – Check his latest one: