HR, Social Media & Punk Rock

I’m chairing the CIPDs Social Media in HR conference next week and so I’ve been thinking about how the conversations around social have grown and developed in the space at the apex of social networking, HR and recruitment – pretty much the bubble I live and work in.

I wrote in one of my blogs about CIPD12 of how the questions have clearly been moving from ‘why‘ to ‘how‘ and this is clearly a shift which informs much of the writing and speaking that I see and hear. Sure, there will be many who are going to need some evidence before taking teams and businesses on the social journey, and rather than stamp off in a strop I think more of those who do ‘get it’ need to raise the conversation away from statistics on usage and reach, and talk more of outcomes.

The more I think about the rise of ‘social‘ the more I seem to think about punk rock. Not sure why, but there are similarities.

Punk wasn’t enabled by technology but by attitude. Coming at a time when you needed an ology to be in a rock band it was a clear shout by a ‘forgotten’ generation who felt they had no voice.

The link here is that it started with a younger generation but quickly became more widely adopted. Just as with today’s social media consultants, gurus and evangelists who climbed on the bandwagon quite early, back in 76/77 you had many journeymen rockers getting a spiky haircut, skinny jeans and a few tattoos and ripping out some three chord thrashes to sudden acclaim.

Of course you had the doubters, those who thought it was a fad and would never really catch on. In music broadcasting, for every John Peel you had a Nicky Horne.

Nicky H was the serious ‘rock’ DJ on Capital Radio. He broadcast regular shows that we’re ironically called ‘Your Mother Wouldn’t Like It’ – ironic because it featured just the type of corporate rock music that most people’s mothers WOULD like.

He was quick to rubbish punk, famously and proudly proclaiming that his shows would be punk free, that you wouldn’t hear any punk music on them.

And guess what. Less than a year later you couldn’t move for the punk and reggae that he was playing on his shows!!

How many social engagement naysayers and doom mongers are now evangelising? Even the PM (he of the ‘tweeters are a bunch of twits‘ sound bite) now has an official account. Though I accept he may not have much input!

And just to square the Punk circle, here is part of an interview that the Sex Pistols gave to NME in the summer of 77. You can read more of the interview on this website – complete with the famous Sid Vicious ‘The definition of a grown-up is someone who catches on just as something becomes redundant”

Just read though this excerpt and substitute mentions and references to ‘punk rock’ with ‘social media’….



Punk Rock

Punk Rock and Spangles

It was always better in our day. The music was better, the football was better…even the sweets were better.

This blog post from Speccy Woo has got me all nostalgic for the good old days. He makes some good points about modern parenting paranoia; our parents did rather let us get on with it and write the consequences off to experience. Those were more innocent times, before the culture of accountability and ambulance chasing no win no fee lawyers.

Somewhere between our parents and us something changed…someone had to take the blame if it went wrong. Someone was accountable and therefore responsible. The council, the school, police, shop owners, bus drivers….everything could have been prevented, someone was at fault.

We can’t deny this shift as it partially informs all the parenting decisions we make. That and environment.

I liked Speccy’s sepia tinged image of children running amok, kicking cans and climbing trees. My childhood wasn’t quite the same as I grew up in a London suburb and there wasn’t much greenery around. It was more cars and concrete than cows and conifers; hence some of the freedoms that were enjoyed by those away from London weren’t really available to me. Continue reading “Punk Rock and Spangles”