Music and change

Over a decade ago I was starting my career in HR. I was so far down on the organisation chart you probably had to turn it over to find me.

I was working in an office with lovely people but, nevertheless, it was pretty sterile. I spent as much time away from my desk as possible. I needed interaction and activity. I wasn’t getting any.

I asked my boss at the time if I could play some music in the office. He was a lovely guy, but couldn’t do conflict.

‘can I play some music please?’
‘we don’t really do that’
‘that’s why I’m asking’
‘it’s not really been something we do’
‘you can’t block change simply because it isn’t what existed before. Are you pro slavery?’
‘no, and I don’t think that’s a f… ‘
‘excellent, I’ll go and get the speakers that training use’

The next stop was the HRDs PA. The source of all power in the office.

‘can I put some music on please?’
‘the HRD won’t like it’
‘I’ll obviously turn it off if he asks’
‘he will be displeased’
‘if he is then you can tell him you told me not to do it’
‘I AM telling you not to do it’

So, an hour later the HRD returned from a meeting. He walked straight over to my desk.

My heart sank – and to be honest I was young and more than a little apprehensive.

‘erm… Hi Kevin, good meeting?’
‘what’s that?’
‘it’s… er… well actually, it’s Billy Ocean’
‘my god! I haven’t heard Billy Ocean for years – do you have ‘red light spells danger?’
‘is that a request?’
‘absolutely, this place needed livening up’

And so the music came to pass.

A few months later…

I leave my IPod on shuffle, I go for lunch. I return to my desk with the Head of HR the only person left in the room. Her mouth was open in shock.

Blaring out of the speakers is the voice of JayZ.


It took some time to explain that one.

Change is never without risk. It doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen.

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