“The Music of Business” – Peter Cook’s fun and stimulating book, out today

Last week we started our review of Peter Cook’s book “The Music of Business”, and as we said, it’s a very good read, being both entertaining and with some genuine business insight and content. It is published today and I believe if you go to Amazon or Cook’s website, there is a special launch day discount offer.

I promised to feature some further examples of the way he uses music to illustrate business principles. For instance, he uses the Spinal Tap “Stonehenge” incident (look it up on YouTube if you don’t know what I’m talking about) to discuss project management, drawing a number of conclusions, like this:

Spinal Tap business lesson # 1. If you have problems executing a project, look back several stages to the project definition. Fuzzy objectives produce fuzzy action.

Spinal Tap were a fictional group, to start with anyway, but in the main he uses real artists to make his point. His analysis of Lady Gaga’s success is succinct but truly insightful, and has important lessons for business organisations, as in this brief extract:

Lady Gaga has captured the hearts, minds, souls and bank balances of several generations through the clever use of social media, in ways that major corporations can only dream of. She has given her fans control of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and so on. They have a shared identity and Gaga has allowed her fanbase to operate a ‘market pull’ approach to affiliation instead of using traditional push’ approaches to marketing.

Cook writes in a very natural, readable and personal style. Some of the anecdotes concern him – read and weep at his story of the financial support he gave to John Otway’s ill-fated “world tour”, a series of events that deserves its own Spinal Tap-like film by all accounts.

And whilst music is a constantly recurring theme, the business material isn’t lightweight. Cook lectures on MBA courses, and (for instance) the Thomas and Killman “managing conflict matrix” he discusses was something I hadn’t seen before, and may well use in the future.

The guest contributions are also good – here is Andrew Sentence, ex Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee member .

Great rock music is the combination of individual virtuoso performances and the ability to work together as a band. This is one of the key lessons I take away from the rock world for my career. The combination of individual ability and team effort is at the heart of success not just in the world of music, but also in business and politics. For the dominant and mercurial lead guitarist, read the overbearing CEO or Prime Minister who does not acknowledge and recognize the views of his/her colleagues. All are ultimately doomed – notwithstanding their ability.

And let’s finish with a critical procurement related question that came to mind as I read the book - did the lady get three quotes before she bought the stairway to heaven? I think we should be told.

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