The death of the 3 minute pop song?

I am very lucky to have contributed a song to this unique album of 100 songs which are just 30 seconds long. The album 100×30 is the brainchild of Marc Christopher Lee and was featured in The Independent just recently:

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Click on the logo to read the article

Marc was interviewed on ITV News in London on Friday 11 December with the story. The concept reminded me of the work of Bill Nelson who produced several albums of simple musical illustrations, each one unfinished and recorded pretty much as is, without further refinement and so on, to preserve the musical ideas as they were conceived of at birth.

Click on the image to view ITV News

Will it be a Christmas Number One?  Buy a copy to help

Here’s some of the tracks from 100×30 – you have got time to play them all as they are 30 seconds each!! No wasted space 🙂

I interviewed Marc Christopher Lee at The Virgin Lounge last week on the ideas behind the album. I’ve discussed the importance of the theory of constraints for creativity and it is clear that the constraint of less time can produce creativity in music as much as the opposite. Find out more and download the album at 100×30, which features Mungo Jerry and Owen Paul amongst many others. Has the 3 minute pop song just died? Did brevity kill the prog rock star? Perhaps not, as David Bowie contemplates a 10 minute song for his new album, but the 30 second song is ripe for an age when only 50% of people can get all the way to the end of a song on their smart phone.

 

Click to download the album

Click the picture to download the album at http://www.100×30.com

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About the Writer:  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. Check our new book out for Bloomsbury “Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise“.

50 Shades of Leadership

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.

Tannenbaum and Schmidt's model of Leadership style

Tannenbaum and Schmidt’s model of Leadership style

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 event on disruptive leadership - June 09 - £10 - click on the picture to get yours now - Picture by Lindsay Wakelin Photography

Come to our event on disruptive leadership – June 09 – £10 click on the picture to get yours now – Picture by Lindsay Wakelin Photography

50 Shades of HR – Click to hook up with The Cultured Llama

Death Eaters

June 9th AOR

I have the extraordinary pleasure of bringing Richard Strange to Kent on Tuesday June 9th to present an evening of film, music and spoken word at the Sun Pier Arts Centre.  Tickets available at Death Eaters. Here is the former “Doctor of Madness” with “Doctor Who” aka Peter Capaldi and Sarah Jane Morris of The Communards fame and much more. And a rare clip of The Doctors of Madness performing.

Richard Strange, Death Eater, Writer, Musician and Kevin Costner's Executioner

Richard Strange, Death Eater, Writer, Musician and Kevin Costner’s Executioner

My personal memories of Richard’s wonderful work include regularly missing the last train home and having to sleep on the stairs of Charing Cross Station after Doctors of Madness gigs at The Marquee. At one gig I was hosed down with a fire extinguisher by Captain Sensible of The Damned. An amazing solo gig at Hastings Caves and bizarre evenings at Richard’s Avant Garde Club Cabaret Futura, with Soft Cell, Keith Allen, Blancmange, all guarded by an 11 foot long python which coiled itself at the door to the club.

The Marquee in Wardour Street, breeding ground for the underground

The Marquee in Wardour Street, breeding ground for the underground

What Do I Get?

For just £10 you will be getting:

  • A mildly hilarious set of observations on the parallels between punk rock and business, punctuated by some punk rock riffs and storytelling
  • A rare performance of some of my solo material set in the “retro-futuristic punk ambient” style
  • An interview with Richard Strange plus Q&A opportunities
  • Richard Strange’s one man show, which includes film, music and spoken word
  • A possible appearance by Sarah Jane Morris, solo artist and performer with The Communards
  • An opportunity to meet a Death Eater

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Peter Cook launches “Punk Rock People Management” and a brand new version of “The Music of Business” at the event with Richard Strange.   Get your ticket for Punk Rock Biz.

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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.

Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, Please

This weeks post concerns the accidental discovery of a Top Ten Punk Rock Hit by Max Splodge, enthusiastic motorbiker and leader of the cult punk band Splodgnessabounds.  I’ve performed with Max and escorted him and Wilko Johnson through French and UK Customs after they had both had a ‘heavy night’ performing with John Otway in France.  Here’s a picture of us at a gig:

Max, Peter and Anna Lisa consume 'three pints of lager but no crisps'

Max conceived of the title of this classic song whilst trying to procure said drinks and condiments at a pub in South East London.   Faced with the closing bell, Max kept urging the bar staff to serve him with his refrain ‘Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, Pleeeeze”.   Shortly after this experience, he thought ‘that’s the title of a hit record’.  The rest is punk rock history.

What is the punk rock business lesson here?  Well, creativity at work involves seeing something different in the ordinary.  Most other people in Max’s situation would have just seen the desire to procure 1400 millilitres of lager and some munchies.  Splodge saw the potential for a Top Ten Punk Rock hit.  There’s a huge difference in the fortunes that come from noticing the difference.  He also then went on to put the idea into action.  Put in a more arty way:

Spot sublime ideas in the mundane as well as the profane

Ideas are nothing, execution is everything

Whilst we’re in the Punk Zone, grab yourself a free copy of Punk Rock People Management by mailing me with PUNK in the title at peter@humdyn.co.uk or click on the picture to find Kindle and other versions of the book:

Punk Rock People Management - No-nonsense business and HR strategies for busy people - available on Kindle, full colour print book and e-book - Book us for a Punk Rock Business keynote

Thanks to Bob Jones at the University of Manchester for this story.  Bob is a University academic and the ex manager of The Tramshed to boot.   He bears an uncanny relationship to John Peel.  Here’s the classic aspirational beer and potato crisp song to finish with:

What’s new pussycat? – Musings on Innovation

What’s new pussycat? Click on the picture for the book

This is a preview for the new book ‘Punk Rock People Management’, available as a high quality print version at Punk HR and  as a Kindle book.  I’ve included an extract from the book on the theme of innovation to whet your appetite.  Our title suggests that we ought to have some music from Tom Jones – hardly punk rock!  But a sideways shuffle takes us to one of Tom’s classics performed by the Sensational Alex Harvey Band – the wonderful tortured tale of Delilah:

Here’s the extract:

INNOVATION – What’s new pussycat?

I once read a book entitled “Innovation in HR”, published by an HR institute.   I was moderately excited to receive the book, which was a gift for perceived services of acting as an ‘agent provocateur’ to the profession – by the way that’s ‘irritant’ in English.  You can be sure that, once an HR professional starts speaking in French to you, they are about to be inauthentic.  Imagine my disappointment when I opened the book to find it empty – ha, ha!  ‘Caveat emptor’ I should have replied to keep the foreign language HR intercourse going….

Yet, perhaps that is a little unfair, and I feel I deserve to have my bare bottom thrashed with hawthorn twigs for even having such thoughts!  Nonetheless, I must be brutally truthful, in that this rather long book had very little to say other than ‘be positive’.  This in itself is often only half the story in terms of innovation.  It may be nice to surround yourself with ‘shiny happy people’, but they don’t always succeed in the innovation game.  If Isambard Kingdom Brunel had decided to hold a series of ‘iron horse focus groups’, 360 degree appraisal forums and ‘drop in customer transportation strategy listening sessions’, he would probably have never built the Great Western Railway and the world would have never have discovered Swindon – some good points in this then – oops!  If James Dyson had written a pleasant letter to Hoover explaining his minor concerns with their vacuum cleaner rather than getting fed up and  making one that sucked (in the best sense), we would NOT now have “The Dyson” as a new name for “The Hoover”

In short, innovation in new products and services requires more perspiration than inspiration.  Innovation is not over when the flip chart is full in the brainstorming meeting and everyone has imagined 101 ways to use a paper clip as a labour saving device for nail care in HR.  Cold sweat, blood and sometimes tears are required.

If you want to innovate, know that perspiration matters more than inspiration, and comes AFTER the brainstorming session.  Too many so-called innovation social networks are only concerned with creativity.  This fine as far as it goes.  However, there is evidence to suggest that modern social networking websites are a new displacement activity, replacing ironing, daydreaming and focus groups at work.  In the words of Andy Warhol and Lou Reed “It’s work” that counts.  Toyota stands out by being excellent at execution as well as inspiration.

Punk Rock People Management offers us three lessons on innovation:

  • Perspire more than inspire.  A walk on the wild side to discover new ideas is necessary but never sufficient for profitable innovation.
  • Run the numbers alongside the brainstorming and recycle your thinking until the innovations have been tested to destruction to improve the ratio of new ideas : profitability.
  • If your innovation is more ‘product push’ than ‘market need’, know that you need to work much harder and differently to succeed.

‘Punk Rock People Management – A no-nonsense guide to hiring, inspiring and firing staff’ is available for FREE via the Punk Rock People Management webpage.   If you like this extract, you will LOVE my other books – so ‘BOGOF’ – Buy One and Get One Free !  Contact us to book your next conference keynote based on our heady mixture of business leadership and music.  You can watch a slideshow of some Punk Rock HR women previewing the contents at ‘I Kissed an HR Girl and I Liked it‘.  Big thanks to Lindsay Wakelin Photography and Sue Cook for this.

To finish, here is Rock’n’Roll’s greatest failure John Otway performing Delilah at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)  annual conference to the amazement of 200 HR professionals!  John attempted to innovate by organising his own record-breaking Rock’n’Roll World tour in the style of Spinal Tap, but failed.  This is an innovation story in its own right, more of which will be told in the post on Spinal Tap.

 

Kissing a fool

 

Punk Rock HR

This is the first post to introduce my new book “Punk Rock People Management”.  Before we start, here’s a classic piece of Punk Rock – New Rose by The Damned:

I had the great fortune of seeing The Damned, The Doctors of Madness, The Jam etc. many times at The Marquee Club in London.  This included getting ‘extinguished’ by Captain Sensible on stage when it became so hot that the Captain decided to hose those pogo-ing on stage down with a fire extinguisher amidst electricity and live cables.  This was in the pre-risk assessment era – Hooray! 🙂

Punk Rock People Management suggests that the HR profession has become a bloated industry which delights in making things more complex than they need be.  In the book I have stripped down People Management to the bare essentials.  This means that each ‘chapter’ is just one page long – ideal for the busy person / Kindle reader etc.  Thus you can read a chapter in less time than it takes to pogo to a Sex Pistols or Linkin Park song! 🙂  On hearing about it , Tom Peters, the world’s greatest business thinker, author and speaker sent me a mail with just two words in it:  “Do it!” – Now that’s what I call succinct in the normally long world of HR!

Never mind the HR Boll..cks

To whet your appetite, here are some chapter titles.  The book is organised using the classic ‘Life, Sex and Death HR cycle’, i.e. Hiring, Inspiring and Firing:

HIRING

Selection – Shall I stay or shall I go?

Induction – It’s my first time

INSPIRING

Engagement – Pretty vacant

Motivation – Reasons to be cheerful

Training – Waiting for the great leap forwards

Innovation – What’s new pussycat?

FIRING

Conflict – Who killed Bambi?

Redundancy – Submission

To order your copy of the book, see Punk Rock People Management.  To buy our other book go to AMAZON.

For now, let’s treat ourselves to the great punk philosopher Billy Bragg, with his song “Waiting for the great leap forwards” – a song all about the gap between talk and action in change management / organisation and HR development.  Reminds me of Red Wedge and many other great days of wide eyed optimism and passion.  There still is a better way to get your point across than stealing a bottle of water from Poundland!