AdjustedDevelopment – the emergence of Punk HR

Posted: May 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

To begin this blog it’s important for me to state something about Blogging – I have this tendency to want to make my blogs authoratitive, challenging, stimulating and – I’ve realised – a bit long.  I’m going to have to get better at that last bit.  Long is not necessarily good in blogs – in fact, I love Seth Godin’s blogs and they’re not much bigger than a tweet.  Clever man. 

Anyway, I wanted to keep this one short but just couldn’t so I am sorry it’s a longish one again.  This blog started when I was a speaker at an event – Business Transformation through HR an event put together by Harvey Nash HR (HNHR) on 10 May 2012.  The second such yearly event HNHR had organised any my second appearance.

I was second up after the driving force behind these events @LisaHNHR – Lisa Wormald.  THE most networked recruiter I’ve come across.  I talked about an internet minute – and there’s a great infographic on that, just (ironically) take a minute and Google it.  I then talked about my recent experience watching “I Love 1977″.  This TV programme on BBC3 featured Star Wars, the Silver Jubilee and Punk.  And the reason I reference the programme was I urged those in the audience to be more about rebellion and practice Punk HR

So what is Punk HR? Some obvious stuff I guess about

  • breaking rules, to generate interest and stimulus;
  • not settling for conventional means at times when a new “sound” and tempo is needed;
  • constant experimentation;
  • a call to the new/next generation;
  • radical new thinking to challenge previously held constructs;
  • creativity, disruption and a degree of chaos.

So I think HR is about to enter its Punk era.  Why?  Well business transformation is needed – as HNHR clearly picked up.  And so I hark back to music circa 1976 and it was a bit like the business world today.  Creativity bubbles had burst all over the place and “establishment” labels were acting like the big banks. 

Then came punk and no more 12 minute prog-rock songs from concept albums no-one could work out; no more cheesy pop-tastic Nolans-esque stuff your mum liked, less Cliff and less novelty trash like Mike Batt’s Wombles. Sorry Mike. How can you not remember you’re a Womble when you’re 7 foot tall, furry with a penchant for rubbish?

It’s time for a change.  Time that HR took some gutsy fights into the boardroom and challenged the convention.  Time to talk with a voice that people recognise and relate to. Create something different, that generates energy, stimulus, a movement.  PunkHR.  It sounds daft to some and there’ll be a lot of doubters but for me this is the time for HR with real attitude.

After all, there’s

  • mass youth-unemployment,
  • a battered public service,
  • pensions raids,
  • a Government that is struggling with its own strategy and
  • a distinct lack of growth projected for years to come.

If Punk HR creates some tensions, some ideas, challenges views on labour and workfulness we might just transform our businesses and generate some jobs. 

We might even find a pogo approach to HR.  We’d all be able to adopt a one-legged bounce as opposed to a three-legged stomp.  Time for a change. 

Punk HR is about:

  • Attitude not just acumen;
  • Short bursts to somewhere not long-players to who knows where?;
  • Unconventional not tired and samey.

The 3 speakers I saw on 10 May all had a little Punk HR about them.  Be it pushing new boundaries in the business model, accepting shortfalls and pushing to radicalise customer service and ultimately to stretch their business; Be it not settling for “doing alright” to not letting the business talk you out of changes needed for future thriving.

These 3 practitioners, from very different organisations, all showed they could do the necessary to get invited not appointed to the boardrooms  (the Punk equivalent of a record deal) – and they could also see what people needed – something different, something challenging, something loud, high-energy and provoking.  And they pushed their agenda, owned it and delivered it – at times taking risks and holding their nerve in the face of conventional thinking.

I think every member of the HNHR audience could see just how the “sit back on your 3-legged haunches” wasn’t going to cut it in 2012 and beyond, it’s all about driving forward and to do that, you need that belief and ability to influence that all rebels have.

Being a rebel and practising Punk HR won’t work for everyone though – and there’ll be the MOR employers with their HR Business Partners in their Execs pockets.  Those people in the workforce who don’t dig a Punk organisational can certainly find a home in a MOR environment – effectively though these are to business what (bless him) Val Doonican was to pop music. 

It’s those with attitude who will put the energy back into their people, their businesses and organisations and create a legacy that will be talked about in 25 years to come.

Maybe even in tartan trousers and sporting a Mohawk.  AnaHRchy in the UK anyone?


  1. Gareth Bullen says:

    Enjoyed the thinking here, the idea of the trail blazer, challanging H.R; rather than the functional process led H.R

    • perrytimms says:

      Hey there top man. Thanks, yes, let’s blaze trails and pogo whilst doing so. Of course all this Punk talk is in no way a move away from my beloved Northern Soul – it’s more about the attitude we need to push boundaries in business. This recession is going nowhere fast and we need some people-powered change (!). Cheers for popping in and commenting. See you soon.

  2. Paul Moran says:

    I think you’re onto something here Perry. I hope this develops into something bigger – keep up the good work!

    • perrytimms says:

      I hope so Paul – I just think all this talk of 3-legged stools, faithful sheepdogs and business partnering hasn’t made us that much more effective, integral or impactful. So I reckon we need something of a movement like Punk was to music. I’m old enough to remember it and boy did it shake things up. I’m in this to create a better future so if that means rebellion now, then so be it. Appreciate you stopping by and commenting – makes it all worthwhile knowing people take the time and trouble. #PunkHR

  3. […] modelling at every opportunity. It might be the #PunkHR approach outlined by @PerryTimms in his post The emergence of Punk HR or it might be a Revamp of the Learning Model, the point is it’s something OTHER than silence […]

    • perrytimms says:

      Mike, great that our blogs are coming together as a networked “tour de force” around stimulating thoughts and creating some ideas.

      #PunkHR is out of the bag now, but if you check out @academyofrock Peter Cook, I’ve already been way beaten to it by others. It is though, as I see it, what now happens to create that movement with even more conviction, action and impact.

      Let’s all keep thinking and working towards this movement…thanks again for the mention.

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