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My #SHRM09 Wrap-up...

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times....

How's that for a cliché to lead the wrap?  Because, that's all I got...SHRMLOGOPuzzle

SHRM09 in New Orleans was good.  Like most of my blogging peers, I'm thrilled to see China Gorman lead the charge regarding opening up the organization to social media, both for coverage for the convention, and overall as part of their business.  It WAS GREAT to meet all the folks I've followed for so long in the HR Blogging world, and the talent is too numerous to mention individually.  If you were at the tweetup (a meeting for twitter users at a conference) or the conference as a blogger or a tweeter, consider yourself included.  If you weren't there, I hope to meet you soon.

So, the social media thing is great...  Still, I wonder if all the buzz around the HR blogging community is 100 people out of 250K congratulating themselves and SHRM, while the other 7,000 attendees of the conference float without a similar anchor community.

Is anyone else listening?  

SHRM is a big organization.  It has to try and be everything to everyone because it takes all comers, as it should, as THE membership organization for the industry.  Mark Stelzner did a good job outlining the career levels and their reactions to the SHRM experience, so check out his wrap-up here.

So, the biggest issue SHRM has is their size.  For me, I don't want employment law out of the SHRM conference because I read enough to get that on my own.  I want the intersection of business and talent. More importantly, I want to figure out who the 300 people are at the SHRM Convention who are energized by the same mix, and I want to meet them.

At the conference - in real time. 

That's the secret sauce moving forward for SHRM.  People walk away from SHRM because they feel it doesn't serve their individual needs.  A bunch of bloggers and tweeters got together at SHRM and discovered a powerful community.  That's cool, but not the reality for the rest of the membership...

What can SHRM do to create similar communities in 50 other niche areas?  That's the segmentation riddle that SHRM has to solve, and it's not easy.  Social media can enable some parts of those prospective communities, but it's not the silver bullet.

The social media aspect to SHRM09 showed the power of the niche community within SHRM, and as a result, I'm more aligned with SHRM than I've been for some time.

Can they accomplish the same feeling across 250K members?  That's the opportunity, as well as the daunting task.

Good luck, SHRM.  I'm pulling for you as a result of the conference.


Paul Hebert

I'm an outsider - adjacent to the issues of SHRM and the HR profession. However, I've been following the discussion that you and others have been having relating to SHRM and it's roll in the HR community. Here's my take from a distance...

There seems to be a lot of conversation that bounces between the "strategic" and the "tactical" - ie: how to get a seat at the table or how to fill out an I9 (whatever that is) - seems to me to be too broad a range for any one organization to handle by itself.

In addition, the arguments also center around pleasing everyone or pleasing no one. The "fashion forward" and the "stalwarts."

What I'm seeing is an organization that is trying to hard to do too much. However, the solution in my mind is pretty simple...

SHRM has local chapters, state chapters, region chapters and the national group. Why wouldn't SHRM adopt a tiered approach that provides the tactical direction and support at the local level and move the conversation up from that level to the top level strategy at the national level. In other words, let's segment the work based on the level.

If SHRM national was supporting the future and SHRM local was supporting the present, I think you'd be able to handle all the issues outlined.

There is a reason companies have different brands for different segments - this allows all constituents to get what they need without sacrificing the whole.

Just my humble opinion watching through the hole in the fence.

Chris Young

Nice coverage of the event Kris.

I have featured your post in my weekly Rainmaker ‘Fab Five’ blog picks of the week (found here: to share your commentary with my readers.

Be well!

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