Guest Blog: Perry Timms – 21st Century Energy and Power at Work

Today I’m delighted to share a guest blog post from the AMAZING Perry Timms. An inspiration, a challenger, a rebel, a HR Entrepreneur and a friend!

GUEST BLOG: Perry Timms – 21st Century Energy and Power at Work

Time for a new sensibility especially in HR.

The power in work to date is with capital.  Shares; money; assets valued. The power in work in the future is a different kind of value.  For good of the world; for economic alternatives and for emotional sanctuary.

It has to be because the other machinery of the world – politics in particular – and the economic promises of the past have been reneged upon. Don’t just believe me.  Believe the World Economic Forum.  Believe the UK’s RSA.  Believe Pope Francis.

All around the world, the narrative of work is changing.  Some of it is being driven by the foreboding presence of the biggest technological shifts since the industrial and machine age of the last century.  Some of it is being driven by the advances in science, digital discovery and the alternatives to financial wealth that are tied with fossil fuels and pharmaceuticals.

So it’s this backdrop that HR now has to work with about work that people do in pursuit of the new discoveries and the new sensibilities.

Just to be clear what I mean about sensibilities:

“the quality of being able to appreciate and respond to complex emotional or aesthetic influences; sensitivity”

We, the people, have come to realise we’ve been sold a series of hollow promises.  That the “markets” aren’t there to serve us all.  And that whilst we may not be in poverty per se, we’re in an unfair and unequal situation at far too many turns to be satisfied with the progress we SHOULD have made as a planet.

We have unused talents; unfulfilled desires and underwhelming futures.  We weren’t sold this.

Our narrative of the world has been a fiction.  Even more of a fiction than Yuval Noah Harari describes in his excellent Sapiens magnus opus.

And yet there is hope.  Always hope.  As Dr Martin Luther King Jnr famously said “We must accept finite disappointment.  But never lose infinite hope.”

And in that hope is a new sensibility.  That despite attempts to pervert the course of justice in the world, we’re more interconnected, informed and inspired to change the course of the future.  We are able to grab the arc of the future and bring it towards us.

And we can hope that HR receives the signal that it’s OK to move beyond administrative compliance; performance regimes and debarring policies.

And here are a few examples – just stepping into the world of outliers, challengers and rebels for a second – of how the patterns are emerging.  The way of work is upgrading in readiness for its next stage.  The way we want to be is forming around a new proposition.

Our belonging.  In the world; to our work; to each other.

One of my modern day heroes is Frederic Laloux.  3 years on from his epochal book – Reinventing Organisations – I now find myself in the midst of an entirely new perspective on the world of work.  Seeking outliers; sourcing unorthodox practices and challenging people I see new examples daily of that new sensibility and next stage thinking.  My personal mission in life is not to tinker with the machine but to create next stage organisations through the people that also believe in that.

This isn’t a tribute just to Monsieur Laloux, and yet we must pay homage to someone who did the ultimate good thing: raised our consciousness to a new way people were creating entirely radical overhauls of the thing called work in nursing, engineering, professional services, education, energy, community work and mental health.

And in another dimension to this change, Kurzweil, Diamandis, Ismail and Van Geest (the force majeure behind Singularity University) give us the model for rapid growth and success – the Exponential Organisation.

And in a further dimension we have Joshua Cooper Ramo showing how we connect our networks and use our power to bridge the gaps between people, purpose and performance.  Where – as he said in his book:

“we are being lead into the future by a class of old leaders who don’t understand networks and a collection of new technologists who don’t understand the world.”

It’s this perfectly defined eye of the storm – old versus new; people versus technology; offensive versus disruptive; that HR has it’s gift of an opportunity and I for one am too determined to see this go to waste.

Cooper Ramo states “In the coming years there will be a struggle between those who have the Seventh Sense – who are born with it or trained to it – and those who don’t….New, networked forces all around us are attacking old, established ones in business, politics, warfare, and science.  Then – because those who don’t have the Seventh Sense for network power will lose these contests, as anyone who tries to stop the future always loses – a new age will begin.”

The most important thing you can do to optimize modern life is to train yourself and your instincts from the inside out – Mastering your destiny begins by mastering yourself  and your instincts.

So let’s start with the transformation we need in the world of work that starts with HR transforming itself.

My first soliloquy is this – HR has been attempting to look after everyone’s else’s needs for far too long and has neglected itself in the process.  When in fact, if it started with itself, it would better serve those around itself.

So it starts with you.  If you’re an HR professional, this is for you.  And this is an extract from my forthcoming book Transformational HR – published by Kogan Page in October 2017.


Area Narrative and Questions
Knowing self The very essence of understanding starts with you knowing who you are.  What brings you to life and how do you feel about your self-worth?
Knowing others How do you show warmth?  Relatedness?  Empathy? In this, we are looking to be the exemplar of relationships.  Connected, considerate and considered about how you create links with people and for what purpose.
Know skills What do you have as skills and capabilities?  What skills do others have?  How can you best use and deploy yours and other’s skills?  Analytical know-how is needed here mixed with an instinct and a sense of what people themselves may not even be aware of – their impact and brilliance.
Know systems Using design and sensing skills, understanding the world that you and others are operating in.  We create systems and systems shape us – this is a vital skill in understanding how to combat hidden forces preventing transformation and in harnessing energies towards a transformation.
Know need the critical thinking needed to truly get what others want of you and your work.  There will be times that what is being asked of you is a possibly misguided understanding of need and there are times when absolutely the other person is spot-on with their requirement.  A high self-worth, knowing practitioner will know what questions to ask to get this right and a critical thinking mind is vital in getting to the truth of a need.


Know energy It is so important to not only get the data right but the energy that will help transform in you, others and impact on the systems aspects of the world around us.  Social intelligence is possibly the nearest discipline that guides us with this.  Some of the energy clues are in the mood, the visual cues and the tone being used by people.

This deeper sense of knowing is the key to start with.  It will enable you to develop something that was coined as far back as Napoleon Bonaparte’s military strategies of success: the coup d’oeil – a knowing glance.  The ability to see something deeply powerful, strategic and significant with a quick look.

As Chinese Master Nan Huai-Chin says not merely the mastery of facts but the training of a vigilant instinct.

HR’s vigilant instinct and therefore the ability to rapidly deploy new sensibilities to the problems faced by organisations with convulsive and totally new changes is needed now more than ever and no other function in the realms of work currently has this skill.

HR will therefore see and sense the new caste that has arrived into the world – the Seventh Sense practitioner; something beyond the previous millennia old orthodoxies of Sage, Soldier and Merchant: – think about that – all the roles we’ve seen up to now have fitted into one or more of these categories.  The new caste is that of the networker.   Our past societies were based around the agrarian reliance on water: and latterly of oil; and the next power source is information.  The domain of the networker.

HR as the networker is there for the taking.  It has the right, rationale and indeed the responsibility to be the networker cutting across all known boundaries of the organisation.

Which is why I’m advocating for HR to remove the shackles of industrial age structures and the clasps of a job description and model the most agile, adaptive and even self-organised ways of working.  To a UX-designing; agile and scrum oriented function which surprises everyone with its appetite for innovation AND rigour; with its penchant for disruption AND stabilising; with its desire to be ethical AND adventurous.

Paradox management is one of HR’s secret weapons to yield alongside its agile networker approach.  Helping the people across the organisation feel the challenge and the support.

HR could also occupy the role of stewards of a just organisation.  Ensuring there’s fairness at every turn.  That a new form of relationship is struck between the leaders and the followers.  That the only tensions are creative ones and the allegiance is always to the most just outcome.  That unhelpful interference is replaced with a sense of flow and trust.

This is a highly aspirational wishlist.  And yet, to my knowledge, these are the things that help the CEO feel more assured and the working populus believe they’re given a chance to influence.

Because I now don’t believe that people leave bad organisations or indeed bad managers.  That’s too simplistic in my view.  I believe people leave for 1 main reason: they no longer feel they belong there.  And what causes the lack of belonging is the feeling that people cannot influence the things around themselves for their betterment.

A lack of influence is the reason people leave one organisation to set up, go to another company or pursue an entirely different calling.  SOMETHING they can influence.

My hope for a Transformational HR function is one of a metamorphosis.  An HR metamorphosis for a changing world of work. A world of work where people can influence their work for the better.  Where they – and their HR colleagues – can build a sense of belonging.  A new energy and power source – people-powered change.

Perry Timms – Founder & Chief Energy Officer : PTHR, Author: Transformational HR (October 2017), WorldBlu® Certified Freedom at Work Consultant + Coach, TEDx Speaker: The Future of Work, Visiting Fellow:  Sheffield Hallam University Business School, Fellow: the

2 thoughts on “Guest Blog: Perry Timms – 21st Century Energy and Power at Work

  1. “we are being lead into the future by a class of old leaders who don’t understand networks and a collection of new technologists who don’t understand the world.” – What wonderful sentiment and this statement offers real clarity around why so much fear exists within our 21st century organisations, a hangover from the 20th or even 19th.

    I cannot help feel that not only is the above wish list key for transforming HR, but key for transforming every one of us and our societies at large. To start with us, to be really self-aware and self-critical, to understand our fears and to put in place a strategy to help us aspire towards our dreams, are all key to helping both HR but also society at large transform to this more interdependent, networked world that we so desperately need.

    As Margaret Heffernan quoted at the CIPD ACE 2016, it is now the time for the “super connector nodes” to take over the next stage of development, ensuring that we develop fairer, more equitable, listening organisations that are inclusive and inspiring for all.

    I love Mr Timms work and cannot wait for his book to come out.

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