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SHRM09 - Can the Progressives Really Disrupt the Fundamentalists @SHRM?

I'm on a plane down to the 2009 SHRM national convention in New Orleans this morning.  I'm looking forward to the trip, even though I've been a distant observer of the national convention for most of my professional HR career. 

It's not that I'm lazy, it's just that... I don't usually care... (Cue the office space clip)Green-to-support-iran

So, what's changed?  I'm noticing some signs that some things are changing at SHRM.  At the same time, I'm noticing some things that indicate that things will stay the same forever at SHRM.

For most of my career, I've been a member of SHRM.  I've held the PHR early in my career, and currently hold the SPHR (since 01 or 02).  That means I've drank a good bit of the Kool-Aid, but always paid my dues and took SHRM for what it is...

The reason I've always been a distant cousin is that SHRM has operated as a classic non-profit.  Great lobbying organization, but when it comes to taking chances and moving the profession forward, too slow for my tastes.  Trying to please a ka-zillion members will do that to you. 

Which brings me to the reason I'm attending SHRM this year.  Can some of the progressive movements I sense actually survive inside Alexandria, VA?  Or will the conservative forces (that's called culture, people, it works for both bad and good) finally have enough and send out a search and destroy mission to bring everything back to the mean?

That's why I'm heading to New Orleans. To try and get a feel for whether the progressives inside SHRM can win. Or even survive.

You remember the mean.  It's similar to average.  It's where everything's safe.  No risks.  Keep printing money and playing to the center.  Progressives don't like the mean.  Fundamentalists love it, however.  Keeps them in power.

If you're at SHRM this week, do like the Iran watchers, get a green twitter icon and change your location to "SHRM09".  We need to provide cover for the change agents.

I'll let you know what I find...


Paul Vercher

Keep fighting the good fight (perhaps metaphorically moreso than actually throwing fists...the former would be most un-HR like ;-). An organization is either growing or dying. I would argue that adopting a "progressive" attitude is critical for this vital organization to remain relevant. Stretching the envelope is both a natural and good thing.

Paul Vercher (a.k.a. HR Leader)

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