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Peter Cook

Human Dynamics

Managing Director

Read more about Peter Cook

Blog: Punk rock HR – A no-nonsense guide to hiring, inspiring and firing


This is the first post to introduce my new book “Punk Rock People Management”, which I intend to serialise on the HRZone.  

If you are in a hurry to read the whole thing, simply contact me with PUNK in the title and I’ll send you the whole thing in one go for free.   
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 thousands of watts of electricity and live cables. This was in the pre-risk assessment era and we are all still alive – Hooray! 🙂
"Punk Rock People Management" focuses on three facets of leadership that separate great HR practice from the herd:
  • Simplicity – Although the world is complex and made more so by the plethora of legislation that grows exponentially like Pink with a mohican treated with L’Oreal , the smart HR leader’s job is to make the complex compellingly clear.
  • Brevity – Generation Y’s work and life is diced into ever small slices. Great HR interventions recognise that time is a strategic asset.
  • Authenticity – Most of the grief that I have heard about HR in my time on the CIPD Council and on the ground has been about saying one thing and doing another. Wise HR leaders are authentic, especially when times are tough.
These qualities are the hallmark of a punk rock attitude as well:
  • Simplicity – Say it simple
  • Brevity – Say it short
  • Authenticity – Say what you mean and mean what you say
In "Punk Rock People Management" I have stripped down People Management to the bare essentials. This means that each ‘chapter’ is just two pages 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, Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs or Linkin Park song! 🙂 
To whet your appetite, here are some of the chapter titles. The book is organised using the classic ‘Life, Sex and Death HR cycle’, i.e. Hiring, Inspiring and Firing:
Selection – Shall I stay or shall I go?
Induction – It’s my first time
Engagement – Pretty vacant
Motivation – Reasons to be cheerful
Training – Waiting for the great leap forwards
Innovation – What’s new pussycat?
Conflict – Who killed Bambi?
Redundancy – Submission
To order your free copy of the book, please mail me via the book webpage at PUNK HR. To sample a Punk Rock Leadership Masterclass, check in at The Open University.
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. I predict a resurgence of interest in Mr Bragg in these days of unrest and a greater need for Punk Rock HR practices. Coming soon, the 1st chapter, entitled "Shall I stay or shall I go?"

Peter Cook is managing director of business and organisational performance consultancies, Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock.

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Peter Cook

Managing Director

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