Monday, 9 November 2009

Innovation, Passion, Sex, Leadership and Rock'n Roll

Peter Cook's recent book: "Sex, Leadership and Rock'n Roll" is a commentary on the importance of combining two key elements of leading innovation (of leading people to do new things and leading them to learn to do old things in a new way), of learning to connect with the stuff of passion (ie. sex and rock and roll) in order to innovate. Obviously business isn't rock'n roll, but there are compatible elements that usefully explain successful, innovating organisations.

Rock'n roll, like business is old and yet it is eternally new whenever a new practitioner comes along with some passion (and a willingness to mine the gold of sexual imagery, or at least romance) who can successfully manipulate a few variables and change the context. David Bowie managed it by taking William Burrough's consciously random cut'n paste manipulation of printed text and visual fashion imagery, with a willingness to adopt an ambiguous sexual persona. And the rest is history, and millions made.

Peter makes some key observations that leaders need to take on board, that discipline and creativity need each other, but that if you don't have ingredient "X" you won't get invited back to the next gig, that if you don't have the passion that lifts others and the ability to "play" in the moment, the passion that helps others to be great in turn, you cannot lead: you can only preside.

As Ken Olsen said: "Leaders do the right thing, managers do things right". And it takes passion to do the right thing because you are probably going to be seen as behaving unreasonably by people who have no sense of the importance of doing something different, now: before it is too late.

Q&A with Peter Cook: Sex, Leadership and Rock'n Roll:

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