Posts Tagged ‘ConnectingHR’

The blogs coming out of the #connectingHR community are hotting up. The level of insight, conclusive thought and inspiration is staggering. It makes me think how lucky we are to have a thriving community of Punks, B-Boys/Fly-Girls, Casuals, Rude Boys/Girls, Mods and Rockers that the musical genre-HR linkage has gone from a novelty element to something defining our attitude and tribalisms.

All joking aside, the labels we’re creating here seem to define something quite significant – that we in HR are not content to be the butt of jokes, the maligned fluffy ones and the overlooked part of the workplace equation. We are being rebellious. We’re not having it, we’re on a mission and we’re creating a movement. I feel incredibly blessed to feel a part of that movement.

I’ll keep calling it Punk and @academyofrock Peter Cook will hopefully thank me for that – as the recent 12p increase in his book might have him rolling around in cash for his anarchic views on People Management – its all Punk Rock eh Peter? Go on, spend 12p more and get Punk Rock People Management from all good online retailers of books.

So what pearls of PunkHR wisdom (or that should really be safety-pins of wisdom) would I like to kick around this time?

Well I’m just down right narked that somehow we’re not valuing people. I don’t mean “gosh I really value what you do/support you provide”. Proper though that is, I’m talking balance sheet value; asset valuation; commodity costing; fiscal representation – monetary if you will.

Now I’m not at all economics savvy. Far from it. That bit in Trading Places where the Frozen Orange thing happens at the end – never really understood totally what they did. The stock market is a mystery and quite frankly is a bit vulgar to me. I’m not a capitalist – I’m more socialist – so the money markets always baffled me, as I thought the Stocks and Shares market was like roulette for the filthy rich. Gordon Gekko figures, panic buying selling and acting like a bear or a bull. And that it keeps crashing and lately is a bit, well, busted.

But I tell what I know is/are valuable. People. Their efforts; their generosity; their diligence. Can I please also state here that I ABHORE the term Human Capital…I can barely bring myself to say it. Absolutely ugly term IMHO. So I won’t be advocating that language. It’s about as PunkHR as Jedward..!

I do though want to see something more metric and recognised, accountancy ratified and CFO-friendly about people.

We have lots of measures around people though don’t we? Yes, the payroll system shows what a huge “cost” to every organisation people are. Hang on – COST? What the heck is that all about..? Cost? These people ARE your organisation. Not the brand, the suppliers, the legal bill, the premises. Those things are a flipping cost.

We have performance management figures, we have talent 9-box grids, we have hours worked each day; time on and off line, units per hour produced, sales figures showing closures per person, customer satisfaction results; employee survey data.

To quote the Pistols – never mind that bollocks. None of these REALLY convinces a sceptical CFO or really creates anything that describes the TRUE value of our people. Now don’t get me wrong it’s not JUST about appeasing or enticing the CFO into something. It’s because at times like these, with cuts and so on, CFOs rub their hands with glee and become all-powerful. So the CEO listens and is seduced by tales of costs cutting. In any event, there’s a challenge to better MEASURE the impact of people.

For example, we have LEANED the crap out of processes and production lines. To the point where there is no more shaving to be done. So where 200 people did a process, now there’s 50 people doing it. But those 50 are also doing a lot more then this leaned-out process and as a result are feeling the heat. The busy exec no longer has a PA and does all her own diary management etc. which she has to do over the weekend and it interrupts her family time. That kind of thing.

Where was the measure of that in the lean impact analysis? It wasn’t there because it assumed people are process robots and they can cope with stripped down processes and less people around. NOT EVERYTHING can be stripped out though. Everything is a process but not everything can be a LEAN one.

– Where is the cost of the meltdown of a perfectly good individual who has his admin support leaned and stripped out?
– Where is the true cost in lost time through sick; lost productivity through having to sick absence manage him; the cost of the loss of faith by his accounts/contacts?
– The loss of confidence in his team who now have to lead themselves or another, less regarded interim is parachuted in?
– Where is the cost of the lost potential future Director we’ve now burned out before his time..?
– Where is the lost cost of all the investment made in him with L&D up to now?

I’m trying to paint a picture of what Umair Haque calls “Thick Value” For a further definition do read his New Capitalist Manifesto book – a truly great read at a time when a new approach is needed for the capitalist model.

The THICK VALUE we need to be able to use in HR is really the TOTAL human cost of the systems we introduce, the morale we sap or create, the lack of engagement we engender through inauthentic, insincere leadership and so on.

I have described this scenario and I’d be interested if you have any thoughts on this:

An Angel Investor rocks up at your 70-strong enterprise which has been going for 3 years and is posting good figures. They offer you £200m. They don’t want to see your balance sheets; your asset registers; your brand proposition value (estimated or otherwise); your factories/offices. They just want to know the following:-
(1) how great are the people who work here? How do we value their attitudes and how do we measure/rate their contributions to overall successes achieved and plan to achieve more of?
(2) how do you know you attract and select the right people?;
(3) how much stronger could your people be with more support / a programme of development?
(4) how valuable is your leadership team at varying levels?;
(5) what are the real costs of over-work / under resourcing and capability/performance management out
(6) what are the true value creators by the workforce around ideas; service propositions and collaborative working?;
(7) what is your well being value; and finally for me
(8) what is the investment you make in people to future-proof your organisation?

An example very recently in the press gave me the belief that people have an explicit value on an organisation that can be metricised or monetised. The CEO of Esprit announced he was moving on for personal reasons. Stock plummeted. Their products, suppliers, bank balances were the same, yet because a person was leaving and the value of the enterprise was reduced. This shows PEOPLE HAVE A MONETARY VALUE which is NOT Human Capital. Where I think Human Capital failed is it tried to apply a value to people’s contributions to the product line and NOT their Social Capital; Innovation Capital; their Advocacy Capital; Generosity Capital; their Sharing Capital and of course the most significant of all their Knowledge Capital – what they have in their head.

These to me are all part of the sticky value proposition and no-one I know of is focusing and measuring on things like this. If people are, brilliant – I’d love to hear about it and share the successes.

So I am not just saying
– let’s get fiscally savvy;
– business-minded or
– data analytical.
I think it’s all of these and more. For me, it’s setting out to measure what some people say you can’t. I believe you can convert the efforts, the ingenuity, the stamina of people into something that makes a strong business case to secure that Angel Investor’s £200m.

People ARE the organisation so please let’s value that accordingly; convincingly

When Punk hit the music scene, I doubt we valued it truly then and only on looking back did we realise it put a seismic shock to the industry and created a whole new way of looking at music and fashion culture. Let’s grab the arc that is thick value around our people and get some powerful, meaningful and valuable measurements going on about our people. #connectingHR knows, believes and does some of this – let’s pool our resources and give our people the credit rating they deserve – AAA+

Pogo on!


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..!