Being creative is a key facet of #PUNKHR – we can all be a SuperHero

Posted: May 22, 2012 in Uncategorized
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I had such fun blogging about my zest for life. The comments and retweets gave me an endorphins rush and a sense that this #PunkHR thing really has got some merit.

And then through the marvellous @FloraMarriott a link to Peter Cook (@academyofrock) and his marvellous books and philosophies around Punk Rock People Management. Oh my I thought, I’ve unwittingly infringed (even stolen) someone else’s IP / idea. Peter though, on my connect with him was not only generous, but utterly delighted I’d gotten a similar take on things to him. We found a camaraderie only associated with rebels and wannabe (but authentic) rebels. I was even more encouraged that PunkHR and it’s movement feel and spirit of productive rebellion was something where a Godfather had now been found. PLEASE check out Peter’s work at – getting there first is something Peter is really modest about but hell, he IS a punk rocker of the highest order.

Anyway, apart from this exciting find, today I attended an event that was pure Punk. A gig at the Comedy Store that I was SO glad I attended. The event was hosted by a total Punk – Marc Lewis. What a guy. Honest, insightful and (he’ll like this) playful.

I took my notes in as creative a way as I could. I used the Paper App on so I sketched it out using words and some images I drew around them. It was my rather lame attempt at paying tribute to the principle of creativity. I was up for this.

My opening page looks like this. What is creativity? Expression of original ideas that bring value. Marc’s definition was good enough for me and he accepted that this can include a mash-up of others ideas so it’s not necessarily something that’s been done before. PunkHR as something creative according to this definition? Seemed OK. Marc talked of a terrific tutor and mentor of his John Gillard who’s work I’m going to look up and others reading this may like to also.

Marc also stated that it is natural to be creative as a child – we are at our most creative when we’re being playful. I agreed with that without hesitation and maybe my zest for life is because I am often being playful. Marc also showcased the EA Sports campaign for PEAce day

a creative programme which got online gameplayers into something bigger than games. Something Marc was very proud of as some of his students created this entire campaign.

My next set of sketches showed I was getting a little more creative myself…

Marc talked about everything being a process EVEN creativity and the equation opposite is Creativity=Knowledge+Problem+Divergent Thinker+Collaboration

Marc referenced the Futureshock book by Tofler and how he said that all processes evolve into an exponential growth curve. Loved it.

We then went through each of the component parts of the equation – part 1 – Knowledge.

Knowledge sits in fields and there are seeds in the fields that we harvest. There are two parts of knowledge – experienced and received. We have knowledge and form that into what is called the set effect – our habits like getting dressed in the same manner each morning. When we want to be creative we have to bust out of the set effect and not default to our experienced and received knowledge.

Marc then introduced 2 aspects of creativity – squirreling – making notes of our ideas. If you have an idea, wherever and whenever, note it. Otherwise it’s lost. We also have binging creativity – where we say “so what?” to things we have that we take for granted and challenge it to become creative and test the conventions we live in. Very #PunkHR.

The second part of the equation for creativity is the problem. There are ALWAYS examples of things that need a creative solution. Marc called this MESS FINDING. Deliverance is a company that will deliver a range of take-away foodstuffs as 4 lawyers working late who all wanted something different to eat and had to wait for the 4 different companies to deliver something their food.

Sainsbury’s campaign for Jamie Oliver was played and the creative way in which their marketing campaign to increase their revenue was produced “try something new”. Marc outlined the approach to increasing revenue as either: –
– steal customers from Asda or Tesco;
– increase the cost of their products;
– find new customers.

Justin King felt neither of these would work and so the “each customer buys one more thing per shop” approach came in to drive up sales and give us the “try something new” campaign.

Then we got a bit more punk and looked at Divergent LATERAL thinking and Divergent LITERAL thinking. I think we all get Lateral thanks largely to Edward De Bono. Divergent LITERAL thinking was very powerful too. The story of Alfred Harmsworth’s creation of a Penny Dreadful (a short magazine) was something I took to him creating a very 1800s version of social media – with problems from readers and solutions from readers which proved so successful, we have him to thank (!) for tabloid newspapers ergo the Daily Mail. He took a divergent literal approach which is a known problem and a list of things that can help to produce a further list of opposites in generating ideas and creating solutions. Our Pizza exercise (listing normal facets then describing opposites) is where creativity can come from. Opposites and tangents.

Then we got into Superhero mode. We were told of the features of a superhero – and herein again lies a PunkHR model – powers or skills; in service of something; a compelling cause and a uniform/trademark. We imagined the names – mine were The Limitbuster; the Wishgranter; EnergyGuy (!); The Artofthepossible Girl; Kindness; The Humour Monger and Multi-tasking Man. We then envisaged their service, their compelling cause and their trademark/uniform. A great energiser exercise if ever there was one – L&D types take note.

We ended on collaboration which is pretty self-explanatory here but it was stated by Marc that it’s rare to find creativity in one person alone. A second person adds, gives critique, and brings creativity to another level. Not many Punks are loners, they are part of a movement and often have a tribe mentality in their “being”. And we all need a guru or 2…and we all need a gatekeeper – someone who’s stance we can take to unlock creativity and adopt an approach we wouldn’t normally take. How would Malcolm McLaren or Jerry Dammers view a problem?

I left with a lot to think about in terms of being creative and the equation start to Marc’s talk really got me thinking about #PunkHR as an expressed equation. I came up with this:-

PunkHR= Attitude + acumen + rebellion + cause + individuality + belonging x unconvention.

I thought Marc Lewis was an entertaining enlightener. I will now look at creativity through the exponentially growing process that it is. And most of all, it’s playful.

Play it loud and pogo on..!







  1. Meg Peppin says:

    There is so much in here, pow! Wham! Shazamm! I’ve had an energy injection. I hope that the HR community who do not engage with social media get to reading this blog as this energy and deep thinking could be both inspiring and encouraging.

    Perry, I do think many do go into HR with a cause and get battered down by rules and experience leadership that lacks any emotional connection with the workforce. Hmmm, rebellion and HR – opposites/tangents? So much to ponder on.

  2. perrytimms says:

    Thanks Megan – you are so right about go in with a cause and get a bit flattened by others around them. The superhero power of bouncing back and showing guile is much needed. Energy and belief are therefore 2 good allies to Creativity. You’re clearly someone with superpowers so I’m glad this has provided a Red Bull kick to your day.

  3. As Meg says there’s loads in here but for me there’s a golden thread throughout around the parts of humanness we’ve forgotten or perhaps never learnt.

    I know this is looking through the HR lens but everything here resonates with adulthood regardless of your role at work. There’s a challenge to recapture our ability to be creative but perhaps a bigger challenge to remove whatever it is that seems to take it away from us…

    Perhaps at a deeper level this is what the #PUNKHR movement is about? Reflecting what we are as humans in the workplace and reminding the organisation of what they’ve perhaps forgotten?

    • perrytimms says:

      Your words are profound and so right. #PunkHR goes beyond just HR but into the humanity of the workplace adn rediscovering the sense of fun, adventure and being in all of us. So maybe we can all rediscover a bit of this and / or identify the things that suppress, zap and deny our creative tendencies. We could go all zen here but I do think you have something here. Thanks for commenting and pogo on dude..!

  4. and with that rediscovery of adventure comes some acceptance of our vulnerability, being able to recapture our lost creativity goes along with recapturing an innocence of youth, when we were superheros that couldn’t be harmed, we didn’t fear failure and we didn’t know there were rules to constrain us.

  5. David Hayden says:

    I love your zest for lite and the way you frame your views and research. Some excellent food for thought – I have been thinking a lot about creativity of late and who determines what is creativity and the context its in. Also how does a creative individual make their voice heard when swimming against the tide.

    Punk HR – it flows neatly on from Making Business Appen of the CIPD conference last year. I just imagine the faces of some former colleagues!!

  6. p.s. It was Laurie Reutimann that coined the Punk Rock HR idea. We were to collaborate on a book, but then she decided to take a different direction with her career so the idea was shelved. I had more or less written the book at that point so I worked on over the years to complete it.

    • perrytimms says:

      Thanks Peter. In that case we have Vivienne, Malcolm and then who knows who I’d be…maybe Weller, Costello or even Plastic Bertrand..! The book is great and the furore over *coughs* Beecroft says to me if more people got Punk Rock People Management we’d not need to work with the dangerous dilemma of Beecroft -v- more legislation. I’m no anarchist or idealist liberal – I’m for freedom of expression and egalitarianist humanity with a social bent. People in work; people leading people; being an individual as part of a movement – all part of having a purpose and a zest for life. The creativity aspect is where the fun, playfulness and expression comes out to make things better. PunkHR is totally that and long may we keep pushing that movement.

  7. Flora Marriott says:

    Perry I love the way your writing style mirrors your content. Loads of energy!
    Squirrelling – great label. I squirrel a lot and I’m pleased to find a word for it.
    Sounds like it was a great day, and the timing was good too.

  8. kendalee says:

    Great post – thank you! The insights are profound and there’s so much good stuff to think about… I think one challenge is taking all this and creating a reality in the workplace where superheroes of all shapes and sizes are encouraged, allowed to emerge, and given space to flourish in an “there’s enough room for all to shine” spirit rather than a “competition to outdo” way. I think competition (covert and overt) stifles creativity in many people and, sadly, I think while lip service is paid to it, workplace structures are still largely designed to foster individual competition over creative collaboration. This doesn’t mean we should give up the cause though and it’s great to have voices like yours singing a different tune!

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