Women Rock

Check this article out from my friend Share Ross, best known as the bass player of female rock band Vixen. In the article she makes a comparison between dysfunctional teams and ones that know how to work, learn and play together.

 

Click to view Share's article

Click to view Share’s article

I like Share’s definition of a rockstar as someone who has aligned their passion and purpose, is authentic – the real deal etc.  This is far away from popular notions of rockstars as self-obsessed egotists and Share blows away some of the myths in this area.

Check Share’s work out at her website Share Ross.  And here’s her latest post “Brother can you spare a dime“. Here’s a clip of her work as a rock n roll star rather than a rock n roll coach:

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Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock. Book him for your next interactive motivational keynote or longer masterclass on subjects such as Leadership, Creativity, Innovation and Change.

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Creativity – I love you

Creativity is seeing something different in the ordinary ...

Creativity is seeing something different in the ordinary …

Seven questions to prompt your own reflections on your creativity.

  1. What do you consider your creative strengths?
  2. How do these make you uniquely able to do what you do?
  3. Where are the applications for these strengths – in business, in life etc.?
  4. How might you develop your creative strengths?
  5. Are any aspects of your creativity liabilities in certain situations?
  6. What untapped parts of your life are currently unused in your work?
  7. How might you make better or different uses of these strengths?

Following a great post on Linkedin asking about people’s personal creativity strengths by Lynette Jensen in Australia, I was prompted to reflect on my own strengths in this area. Rather than filling in endless questionnaires and conducting 360 degree appraisals, I asked my wife, who probably is more accurate and truthful than the other approaches! She reminded me that I have had an unusually fortunate life in respect of creativity, having more or less mapped out my own career (she is rather jealous! 🙂 ).  She went on to help me notice some of the uncommon strengths that have accrued as a result of this:

  1. I have worked across 3 distinctly diverse disciplines – Science, Business and Music. This cross-curricular learning helps me make connections between things that apparently others don’t. This makes me variously wonderful, strange, deep, hard to follow and a host of other positives and negatives 🙂  If working with me is rewarding but hard work, then living with me must be much worse! Fortunately, my wife has the patience of a saint …
  2. I’ve worked in industry, academia and in the community – in Industry, working for a pharmaceutical company all around the world, in academia, teaching MBA’s in creativity and innovation, in business as a consultant, author and speaker on creativity and innovation in overlapping cycles of 18 years each, plus in the community as a rock musician over my entire life. She said that this gives me the ability to work with people of all levels and viewpoints, from professors, world leaders through to people on the ground floor of companies and those people who are in the gutter, looking at the stars. She reminded me that it is uncommon to be at ease and able to work with people from all walks of life.
  3. The academic and industry part of my life makes my creativity grounded within a business context.  She points out that this is a huge difference to the ‘usual suspects’ in the field and this was confirmed by a corporate client recently, who chose Human Dynamics for a piece of consultancy work preferentially against the market leader, because of our repertoire, depth or experience and grounding.
  4. I never consider I have stopped learning, which makes me innately curious, the stuff of creativity and innovation. I live to learn and learn to live. Mental playfulness is a muscle that I like to stretch and test, sometimes to destruction.  It is a quality that is crucially missing from many companies these days, which may explain how we get hired to help people leverage their creativity and innovation.

Macbook

Here’s the seven questions again to prompt your own reflections. Alternatively ask someone that knows you well:

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For more explorations on what makes individuals especially creative and how to harness that power personally and corporately, check out the book “Best Practice Creativity“.  I’m presently writing a follow up volume and looking for stories and examples about what works in the field of personal creativity.  Please get in touch if you have a contribution.  Full credits given.

Best Practice Creativity - Available in English, Russian and American ...

Best Practice Creativity – Available in English, Russian and American … Acclaimed by Professor Charles Handy

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About the Blogger:  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

Ask and you may receive

Ask The Smiths

This is a simply inspirational story of someone who refused to be defined by others and who made a huge impact in the music industry by doing something fundamentally different to the norm.

Amanda Palmer illustrates the powerful impact of connecting through your vulnerabilities as much as your strengths and the power of asking.

VULNERABILITY

I’d imagine that most of us would not wish to get naked in front of hundreds of people of the opposite in order to gain commitment to a project or cause!   Amanda’s method does not have to be copied, but it can be creatively swiped.  The underlying principle is that when you reveal a vulnerability, it can produce a much greater connection than appearing to have no faults.  The process of self disclosure and self effacing humour is much misunderstood, but in the right hands, can be a powerful source of connectivity.

ASKING 

I know so many people who want to achieve things but who do not ask people to help them.  Sure, it’s not guaranteed to work but one thing is equally certain.  If you don’t ask, you don’t get.  It’s a trait that I’ve used positively quite a few times through my life.  See the post on Harvey Goldsmith.  Whenever I’ve regretted things, it’s often when shyness has kicked in.  Shyness is nice, and it can stop you from doing the things you want to … wise words from Mr Morrissey:

A short post this week as I’m taking a break prior to my trip to New York next week – enjoy the summer if you have any wherever you are in the world 🙂

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About the Blogger:  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

The Heart and Soul of OD – An interview with Fuchsia Blue

Fuchsia Blue

The other week, I was privileged to interview Julie Drybrough of Fuchsia Blue.  I am absolutely made up with the work of Simon Heath who sketchnoted the film in his blog at SKETCHNOTE BLUE.  Simon may be contacted at sjheath@live.co.uk for his incredible work.

The dialogue was wide ranging and we learned the following things from this:

About Organisation Development

Boards are often unaware of the habitual patterns of communication.  Julie employs a range of Organisation Development practices to help boards make the most of their time together, such as process observation and feedback.  The Organisation Development Matrix that I have found to be of great use over time is shown below:

The OD Matrix

The OD Matrix

About Dialogue

Dialogue differs from discussion, in so far as it is a much deeper form of conversation that leads to much better results.  It turns out that we have both travelled similar roads around the work of Physicist David Böhm and Peter Senge.  If you want to have more productive conversations about important things, a study and practice of dialogue is essential.

About Emotional Intelligence

Julie differentiates the idea of being human at work from ‘human resources’.  If human beings are our greatest asset, we make a big mistake by treating them as human resources.  This requires leaders to possess and demonstrate emotional intelligence, having mastery of themselves and being aware of their own impact on others.  More on this aspect at Emotional Intelligence.

Julie may be found on Twitter at @fuchsia_blue  and works predominantly in the public sector on Organisational Development Strategies and Practices.  I’m looking forward to finding an opportunity to work collaboratively on dialogue using music in the future.  Let us know if you wish to advance this proposition.  Since Julie hails from Scotland, we must mark the occasion with some music from that Big Country:

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About the Blogger:  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

Must the show go on?

Just back from a weekend with the Godfather of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Dr Richard Bandler and the NLP master hypnotist Paul Mc Kenna.  At one point during the weekend, the song “The Show Must Go On” popped up in the back of my mind … funny how that happens … Undoubtedly this maxim pervades most entertainment circles.  Does it transfer to business I thought?  I felt a certain unease.  Let’s check Queen’s classic anthem before deciding:

I’d argue vigorously that the maxim is at least unhelpful and possibly dangerous in some circumstances.   One of my great business heroes Tom Peters, points out that one of the hardest things to do in business is press the STOP button.   In rock circles, my friend Bill Nelson has a maxim for reinvention that says “Do not be afraid of the off switch”.  Had Michael Jackson written the song “Wanna Be Stoppin’ Something” instead of “Wanna Be Startin’ Something”, it would have probably not been a hit however 🙂

But the STOP button is vital in some circumstances.  Kodak would have probably avoided Chapter 11 bankruptcy if they had made the switch from analogue to digital film sooner.  Sony might have avoided a steady decline from being one of the most celebrated innovation companies if they had recognised the advent of downloading and done something different with their record company.

In our personal lives, what things are we doing that we really should not, just out of habit?  I can think of quite a few things that need to go in my ‘life laundry’.  And you?   A periodic pause for reflection before moving on is a healthy part of any smart person’s business and personal life.  Contact me for a free consultation if you need to do your personal or business life laundry.  “STOP in the name of life” may not have been a hit for Diana Ross but it may improve your bank balance!

Some questions to ponder:

  • What activities and habits are you pursuing that are past their sell-by date?
  • What ‘dark alleyways’ do others lead you down that do not contribute to your overall life purpose?
  • What relationships or tasks are you pursuing that are not based on a sense of equity / reciprocity?  How can you change them so that they produce better results for all concerned?

Just for fun, and having spent quite a bit of the weekend in light to moderate trance (my wife says there’s nothing new there …), here’s a humorous insight into the hypnotic world of Paul Mc Kenna:

Postscript:  This post has caused some controversy from people who rightly dislike the manipulative end of NLP.  From my direct experience I can say that Richard Bandler may swear a lot in his seminars but his ethics for using NLP are absolutely in the right place.  People cite politicians and bad sales people as examples as what is wrong with NLP.  If you put good tools in the hands of bad people, bad shit happens … Is that down to the tools or the people?  I leave you to decide.

It’s a kind of magic – Creativity at the speed of sound

Creativity in business can be a slow, incremental process, as Wallas identified in 1926:

  1. First insight – problem/opportunity finding and redefinition
  2. Preparation – the groundwork is often done here
  3. Incubation – in many cases, this is where unconscious processes play their most important part
  4. Illumination – often described as the ‘aha’ experience
  5. Verification – where the idea is validated and accepted by others

In other cases, creativity can pour out of people, at the speed of sound and almost to order.  Such was the occasion about 6 years ago, when I wrote a song and recorded a demo of the song all in less than an hour.  The piece was inspired by my 8 year old son James, who seemed to demonstrate an ability to wrap my wife and I around his fingers at a level of competence well beyond his years and quite different to my older boy.  One day, the idea of a song called “Cowboy James” came to me – words and music flowed and the whole thing was finished in minutes.   I previously wrote about Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and the state of flow and this is a good example of flow in action.  I recently re-recorded the piece.  Please take a listen to this product of naïve and rapid creativity:

The business lessons? 

  1. Sometimes the first thing we do is the best thing.  Resist the temptation to refine and overanalyse if your creativity feels right the first time.
  2. Steve Jobs was known to trust his intuition as much as a spreadsheet.  Balance head and heart if you want to convert creativity to innovation
  3. Read Bill Nelson’s principles for continuous creativity to gain an insight into how to create the flow state – More on this in my books.
  4. As part of my MBA teaching and innovation consultancy over the years I have practiced with a suite of about 120 creativity techniques which improve the speed and effectiveness of brainstorming.   Technique is only part of the equation to get an innovative climate, yet it can help produce creativity ‘on demand’ and certainly more reliably than a poorly run brainstorming session.   Contact me via e-mail at peter@humdyn.co.uk to find out more.
  5. Bill Nelson has just released a beautiful box set album covering 40 years of continuous creativity and flow.  It is a testament to an intuitive approach to creativity, matched by discipline.  Check it out at The Practice of Everyday Life:

The Practice of Everyday Life – Picture by Martin Bostock http://www.martinbostock.co.uk

A Rock’n’Roll Christmas – Part 1

Rockin' all over the world

This year I have been blessed to meet some fantastic people around the blogging universe.  They have kindly offered to send me a Christmas message, so here for your delight are some Rock’n’Roll life and business coaching tips taken from a magical mystery tour round the world:

We start out journey close to my home in London: Meet Doug Shaw, author of Stop Doing Dumb Things to Customers, who indulges me with a bit of punk rock.  “Joe Strummer taught me to be ‘anti-ignorance’ and for sharing ‘Without People You’re Nothing’

Doug also offered us the example of Neil Ellwood Peart from the supergroup Rush – for his ability to recover from personal tragedy and his endless thirst for improvement.  A class act.  Lest we forget:

We must rush on … to platform 9 and ¾ at Kings Cross to join The Flying Scotsman.  We are met in Edinburgh by Colin Millar, aka The Ranting Scotsman.  Colin cranks it up with a leadership lesson from classic rock:  Queen’s ‘One Vision, One Mission’.

Colin rants “The title and lyrics say it all and I think it’s a great message for business people – ‘One Vision’ is first and foremost about the ‘vision’ and extrapolating what that vision is and the unity vision creates, bringing people and cause together.  I also like the concept of ‘consensus in eden’ that runs through the song”.

From a big country we then take a passage to India, to hear from Sonia Jaspal, who focuses on the power of music to create and maintain emotions.  She says “I think without music, the world would lose the most beautiful power of expressive emotions. It touches the depth of our soul. I am still a person that when I listen to some of the softer numbers I have tears in my eyes. Yeah, I need a box of tissues while watching some movies.   Also, without music, one would lose most of the inspirations in life. When one listens to beautiful music it somewhere resonates deep within. It has the capacity to change emotions and thinking.

Sonia’s favorite song is from an Hindi movie titled Safar (Journey). The song is ‘Zindagi Ka Safar’ (Life’s journey) sung in Kishore Kumar.  It is portrayed via an actor suffering cancer.   He is singing the song:

Moving on to Canada, home of Bryan Adams, Celine Dion and Francois Guay, who leads the Attack Defend Disrupt blog.  His choice of music that offers us a lesson in life or business is ‘More than a Feeling’ by Boston:

Francois takes up the story “This song contains my favourite guitar riff ever.“ Editor’s note – I can sign up to that!  “Although most people see it as a man disappointed in a having lost someone he loved, the song to me is all about reaching your goal, i.e. When you achieve one of your key goals that is “more than a feeling” it’s sublime and must be reproduced again and again.”  Seems like a lot of people agree that music inspires us to focus on and reach our goals.

Back to Blightly to meet Alison Chisnell, HR Director of Informa and author of The HR Juggler.  Alison’s song with a message is Billy Joel’s ‘All About Soul’.  She takes up the story:  “The context is that as an idealistic 18 year old, I had just begun a six month stint working in a children’s home in Zimbabwe as part of my gap year and in the early days I felt isolated, homesick and terrified that I had made the wrong decision. This song resonated as a reminder to commit fully to the adventure I was experiencing, to bring my values and passion to the task at hand, to ‘man-up’ and become more resilient and to accept that standing up and being counted was and is a good thing. Bland is rarely, if ever, good….so don’t be afraid to be you and get stuck in! Just because it isn’t easy doesn’t mean that it won’t be hugely rewarding.”

Staying on the theme of soul, we finish with Sharon Howard, who offers us lessons in life and business from Bill Withers about the importance of delegation, support and asking for help. We all need the help of others in order to succeed and they need us too, we all need somebody to lean on 🙂 A truly inspirational piece:

Coming up, we have more stories from bloggers and cool people all round the world.

Hope you have a Rock’n’Roll Christmas! – if you have not yet treated yourself to a free copy of my new micro book ‘Punk Rock People Management’, get an electronic copy by mailing me at peter@humdyn.co.uk.  I look forward to hearing your comments on this blog, suggesting other songs that have meaning for you.

Have a great Punk Rock Christmas - Click on the picture for the free book - Picture by Lindsay Wakelin Photography http://lindsaywakelinphotography.com/