Musings about Business through the medium of Music
The Music of Business
Bite size musings on business and
personal excellence from Peter Cook
The Academy of Rock
Wanna Be Starting Something?
Michael had a great hit with ‘Wanna be starting
something?’. It’s unlikely that we would have been as
successful if he had called the song ‘Wanna be stopping
something?’. Yet stopping the momentum of a failing
project once in full flow is much harder than starting a new
The wise leader stops a project before it has failed and
Chain Reaction – Diana Ross
Successful innovation often requires the combination of
several different talents: Inventors, who often produce
ideas without concern for their practical value; Innovators,
who develop ideas such that they have sustainable
commercial value; Champions, who bring resources to help
the product / service idea succeed.
Smart people ensure that these types are represented at
the right stage of an innovative project. The innovation
chain reaction is then achieved.
Communication Breakdown – Led Zeppelin
To appreciate how good intentions produce unexpected
outcomes, buy yourself a copy of the classic rockumentary
“This is Spinal Tap” and watch the “Stonehenge” sequence.
There are direct parallels with the ways that bad projects
are managed in business.
Bad Romance – Lady Gaga
If you're having trouble in a relationship, change what
you're doing, rather than banging your head against the
same wall. In other words, try the new saying “If at first
you don’t succeed, try something different.”
Don’t go gaga trying the same thing over and over.
Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division
Love and hate are useful emotions at work, since both
produce energy and passion. However apathy is a killer
since it stifles action. This is probably the reason why Joy
Division did not call their song “Apathy will tear us apart.”
Disengagement is a major cause of poor performance at
work or even sabotage.
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
The Rolling Stones
The factors that motivate are different than the things that
dissatisfy. If you can’t get no satisfaction, rid yourself of
dissatisfiers, such as pointless administration, bad
supervision, poor working conditions etc. to start with.
That just takes you to a point of neutrality. Introduce
factors that produce more satisfaction into your life, such
as responsibility, advancement, getting feedback on
achievements and so on.
Solitude Standing – Suzanne Vega
Give yourself immersion time where you can focus on a
topic without external influence or stimulus. In extremis,
sit in a broom cupboard to think like Harry Potter in Little
Whinging. Whilst distraction is essential for creativity, the
reverse is also true. Some people need complete focus in
order to think. This must be engineered in a world where
we are bombarded by stimuli. If locking yourself in a
cupboard at work is considered strange, find ways to
achieve mental solitude, e.g. meditation, music whilst
Nothing Else Matters – Metallica
Great time managers focus on what matters most to the
exclusion of all other tasks. To do this, it’s important to
spend some time finding out what matters and then
acting as if nothing else matters.
Wise words indeed from the Californian Thrash Metal
Pretty Vacant – The Sex Pistols
HR gurus such as Gary Hamel at HR conferences seem to
mouth the word ‘engagement’ more times per minute
than Robert Plant used to sing ‘baby’ in the average Led
Zeppelin song. Engagement is not so difficult to do. Find
ways to stop demoralising people at work and enhance
the things that keep them coming back and giving more
For more detail, e-mail us for your free copy of the book
Punk Rock People Management.
Midnight At The Oasis – Maria Muldaur
Professor Charles Handy introduced the idea of ‘stability
zones’ during change and his idea is an enduring one.
People like to have some kind of oasis or anchor point
during rapid change and periods of turbulence. Find an
oasis point and keep it safe. This could be something
physical, a routine or ritual or something psychological.
Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock
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