I know, I know. Don't most people wait to write a review once a show like SHRM12 is complete?
Yes. But I already know what I want to say. I'll update the post once I'm at the show this week with any changes of heart.
Big Wins for SHRM12 in Atlanta
Couple of things here, pretty clear ways that SHRM is getting better at the annual event than they used to be...much better:
-Big Names that people actually want to see. Malcolm Gladwell. Jerry Seinfeld. Need I say more? Pretty good rockstars to build a show around. In the not too distant past, it feels like Seinfeld wouldn't have been an option based on some of the themes in his show - master of his own domain, etc. SHRM's starting to connect in this area. Gladwell is a great choice for the pure innovation/thinking differently angle. Condeleza Rice? Not bad, but that just mainly shows that SHRM has a lot of cash.
-SHRM finally gets social. SHRM has loosened up a lot at the show and is actually encouraging social interaction, which is a function of @shrmsocialmediaguy, Curtis Midkiff, getting traction and support in the organization. What choice did they have? None, actually, but it's good to see social traction around the show.
-Some personality in the lead up materials to the show. Just me, or did anyone else notice that the lead up materials to SHRM12 looked less like a non-profit and more like a organization attempting to build buzz and market?
-ATL. Our company, Kineitx, is based out of the ATL, so clearly I'm going to think this was a great choice. Except for the heat. It's been mild all summer, and it looks like the heat decided to show up. You're welcome.
Stuff That Still Needs Work
-Sexiness of the sessions. You've got Gladwell and Seinfeld. Time to let the hair down a bit on the concurrent content tracks. No question there's a lot of sessions to choose from, but it's hard to really get excited about the marketing of the sessions, even if they are truly great. Give me a video pitch, an opportunity to interact with the person presenting, something. It looks like a librarian wrote them, people.
-Connecting with people attending sessions - would love a tool that allows me to see who's attending what sessions, similar to an evite type of thing. Just another way the org can join 2012. Here's your big idea for 2013, SHRM - create profiles of 30 different types of attendees, then have them put together a "playlist" of the sessions they're going to attend - then allow people to select that playlist to get their intial agenda, then modify it and even show the number of people who have intially elected a playlist before they modified it. Boom - I just solved your concurrent session problem. You're welcome.
Things That Are Broken
-OK, you've still got the SHRM Members for Transparency group out there, and they sent an email last week saying they got bounced from the space they arranged for their Sunday press conference by SHRM, who told the hotel they weren't authorized, etc. So the little guys looking to hold the bigger org accountable had to scamble to find space. Is that true, SHRM? If so, it's weak. You need more people (not less) who care enough to spend time, money and energy trying to disrupt the status quo. #shame. But hey, you're the boss, right? Just send one of the administrative bouncers over there to break their collective legs.
THE OVERALL REVIEW GRADE** - B. I used to be "C-". You're doing well. Don't get too cocky about crushing dissent, though. That'll cause you to go down even if you keep the production values high.
**How I'll Know You've Really Arrived: At about 50 different prominent spots at the show, you allow a twitter feed to roll allowing registered attendees (no one that's outside the show and no vendors) to say what ever they want to say. No editing. At that point, I'll know that you really get a lot of things that you traditionally haven't about transparency and authenticity. Curtis Midkiff can help you figure that out if you let him, but remember - that suggestion transcends the use of social - it means you're creating an event that's more focused on the thoughts of the user than it is about your organizational level of control.
Since you're an association, that would make sense. Have a great show and welcome to Atlanta, SHRM...