Don’t Just Hack Your Business, Punk It


Don’t Just Hack Your Business, Punk It

I recently attended a performance by a 40-year old punk band called the Dead Kennedys and the topics the lead singer spoke about, and the lyrics reminded me of some of the values that punk music was founded on. 

This got me thinking about the hacking trends that get promoted such as hacking your business, your body, your mind, technology, and whatever else we can think of.

This can be interesting and fun, and it also got me thinking, “Why not punk our businesses and lives?”

Basically, the original underlying punk ethos was about taking responsibility.

Taking responsibility for yourself and what you say and do, for those around you, for your communities, and for the world in general. Some of the principles that were promoted within an anti-establishment framework were about challenging racism, sexism, homophobia, authoritarianism, and corporate power and greed.

It dawned on me that these original punk values could be relevant to socially conscious businesses. So I thought I would share these thoughts with you.

Punk your business and take responsibility.

One of the aspects of punk culture is about being anti-establishment. This can take on many forms and mean many things to different people. From my perspective being anti-establishment is about challenging societal practices and norms that create and or maintain inequality and inequity within our societies.

Sometimes this means taking responsibility for things I have done and other times it has been about challenging people and the institutions they represent to also stand back and self-reflect and take responsibility.

Within this form of anti-establishment thinking, there is no reason why a socially conscious business cannot adopt a type of punk ethos.

Below are just three of many values that stand out for me from my experiences and knowledge of punk culture.

Punk these values:

1. Challenging the status quo.

This is a common phrase associated with being anti-establishment or punk. My thinking is that just because we are in business does not mean we are automatically part of status quo structures that we do not always agree with. Even big businesses such as Tesla, although hugely corporate in nature, have challenged the status quo around using fossil fuels as the power source for motor vehicles.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • Do I feel like I am selling out through compromising my beliefs?
  • Does my business appear to be a replication of other businesses doing similar work?
  • Is there a way that my business can push the societal envelope for the better?

2. Doing it yourself.

Taking action is about taking personal responsibility and not about going it alone or being a martyr to beliefs. The key person to take responsibility for your life and business is you.

From this perspective here are some thoughts to consider:

  • Is there any direct action I can take in my business to strengthen important core values?
  • Is there anything I personally need to take responsibility for?
  • What kind of messages am I conveying through my words and actions in my business?

3. Egalitarianism.

Loosely this is about the idea of supporting a just and equal society. For me, this includes thinking about practices that challenge things such as racism, sexism, homophobia, and any other practices that create inequity and inequality.

In relation to business practices we can ask ourselves:

  • Is my business welcoming to people from diverse backgrounds, women, people with different genders or sexual orientation and so forth?
  • Does my business reflect diversity?
  • Do I have sufficient processes in place to deal with things such as racism, sexism and homophobia in the workplace?

Go forth and punk your business.

The essence of what I have shared is about challenging yourself to reflect on your business from your values base. Like punk culture, this can sometimes involve an aggressive but respectful shakeup, but it can also be damn fun and insightful.

I say give it a go and punk it all up.

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