Ah, Jubilee time. Fireworks, flags a-flutter, and BBC TV series about that other fond memory of 1977: punk. (That jubilee coincided with my seventeeth birthday: specific memories are hazy, but bunting, sausage rolls and pogo-dancing were involved.) Our old acquaintance – in the Auld Lang Syne rather than the sedan chair sense – Peter Cook has already made the connection, understandably given his own Punk Rock People Management micro-book (and series at HRZone). So excuse me a little while I wax briefly nostalgic about what all that stuff about Mohican haircuts, bondage trousers and ‘No Feelings’ was all about at the time. (And I’ll try not to wax poetic about doing so with a Melody Gardot CD and a book about gardening at my right elbow. Everything gets old – even, pace Andrew Marr, bloggers.)

As the BBC’s Punk Britannia series helps to explain to those younger than me, the ‘explosion’ of Punk had a longer fuse than casual observers might have noticed. As a musical phenomenon, it had rather long roots – including the American garage bands chronicled on the Nuggets CD series, the New York bar band scene earlier in the 1970s, and British mod bands of the 1960s. “Here’s three chords, now start a band” is not only a popular misquote, but a misquote of a fanzine published long after a long, long fuse had finally connected with the powder-keg. Whatever it might have been, it was no epicentre of musical originality: even the Sex Pistols played cover versions. Versions shorn of musical finesse and infused with a splenetic vigour that was a deliberate assault on ear-drums attuned to the prevailing musical forms of the time, but cover versions none the less. (Were I so minded, there’d be a very bad taste joke about extra-ordinary renditions to be had …)


Our blog has crossed paths – or perhaps run in parallel with – Peter Cook of The Academy of Rock/Human Dynamics/Punk Rock HR on several occasions, and happily so. Closer attention on my part to one of his recent blog postings – Let’s pretend we’re married – Getting engaged – was sparked by what some people now seem to call ‘life events’, in that I’ve recently done the latter and am in the middle of planning what is now being referred to at home as The Big Day™.

For me, the pun of ‘engagement’ is so easy and obvious, but I’m not convinced that I believe the parallel between pro-actively participating at work and pro-actively participating at home is a realistic or fair one. I appreciate that the changes we’ve witnessed in modern life might mean we superficially look as if the opening stages – carefully crafting and positioning an online profile that shows you as the ideal candidate, while simultaneously reviewing the profiles of others to try to read between the lines and ponder the curious omissions – are fairly similar.
But even this overlooks inconvenient differences. Some have been more attractive than others, but no future employer has ever caught my eye across a crowded room and made my heart skip a beat. Nor have any suitors requested that I submit my CV to a third-party consultant for vetting and appraisal, or sit a series of psychometric tests. (Although the latter might have meant that one or two cases of terminal incompatibility came to light before the waiter brought the coffees.)


The clichéd form of words would probably be to start with ‘Unaccustomed as I am …’, but being interviewed by someone else actually was a first. I’m therefore blushing slightly to mention that, as part of a two-stage, two-way dialogue with Peter Cook of The Rock’n’Roll Business Guru’s Blog, you can read my responses to Peter’s questions on subjects that include business, leadership, learning transfer and – as neither of us appear to be able to live without it, either literally or as a pricesless metaphor – music.

You can also download a PDF version of Peter’s most recent book, Punk Rock People Management. Previously acclaimed by Professor Charles Handy and Tom Peters, Peter mixes up business academia with music in a heady cocktail that reaches the parts that other business gurus do not dare to touch. Punk Rock People Management takes a critical look at Human Relations and offers some short and straightforward advice on hiring, inspiring and firing staff.  In the spirit of punk, Peter has made each chapter just two pages long – ideal for busy people and those who now browse books online (a Kindle edition is also available, along with a traditional full colour book.)  On hearing of the idea that you could read a chapter in less time than it would take to pogo to a Ramones or Linkin Park song, we understand that international author and speaker Tom Peters tweeted just four characters to Peter: “DO IT”!

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In September 2009, we interviewed Peter Cook of the Academy of Rock and author of the book Sex, Leadership and Rock’n’Roll. Peter has recently launched his own blog, The Rock’n’Roll Business Guru’s Blog, and suggested that we reprise the Q&A idea. We have done so, but with a twist: each of us has posed questions for the other to answer. Below, we present Peter’s answers to the questions I posed, along with responses from me. Later this month, Peter will be publishing my answers to the questions he compiled (we’ll add a link here in due course as an update).

Overtures and intros duly completed, let’s get on with the main event.

Q: Both of us have written about music as an analogy or metaphor for leadership, organisational design or culture, or teamwork. Why do you think we’ve chosen music as the metaphorical vehicle rather than any of the other arts? Theatre, film-making, even ballet might support being used as similar metaphors, but music seems to be the most powerful: are we missing some interesting lessons from other artistic forms?

Peter Cook: It’s true that different art forms present different perspectives for learning about business leadership and so on. Yet music is a good choice since it can create powerful imagery, much music has lyrical content thus it has a literary content and some music is connected with movement and dance. So, I would say that music is something of a boundary crossing art form, embracing other artforms. Yet it is true that metaphors are partial realities and focus us on certain aspects of the situation (and sometimes hide others). I think Gareth Morgan’s work on ‘Images of Organisation’ is most instructive here.