The one where the unconference strikes back

Earlier in the year I attended the 2nd ConnectingHR Unconference. Although it was the 2nd for the community it was the first for me both within that community and also experiencing the unconference format. I wrote two posts about it at the time which you can find here and here and don’t want to rehash those but yesterday I attended the 3rd unconference and want to share some thoughts surrounding it.

The first thing to say is what a great group of people. For a group that came together largely through Twitter it’s a warm spirited, generous, enthusiastic and committed group who really do want to improve their businesses and themselves. I am genuinely pleased to be part of it and will continue to be so (I hope). It’s a credit to the people who put the passion and energy into driving it especially (for me) Gareth Jones @garelaos.

Being as this is social media (ish) what follows are 3 ‘episodes’ which have informed my reflection:

Episode 1: Monday Oct 17, Twitter

A Twitter conversation with @neilmorrison, @thinkingfox and @garelaos this week prompted me to think about what ConnectingHR’s purpose is and is there an opportunity for the passion and enthusiasm to drive significant change. Some involved in that conversation questioned ConnectingHR’s position to be able to do that with a comment along the lines of HR not being a community that needed a forum. My response at the time was that it was a group of people needing a community and truthfully that’s what it is for me. What followed was a spirited, although I believe, well intentioned exchange about the community as is.

Episode 2: Tuesday Oct 18, A London restaurant

So over a glass of something alcoholic, I then had the opportunity to continue the discussion with said same @neilmorrison, giving us both the opportunity to flesh out the discussion we had been having online but also discuss some of the potential that ConnectingHR represents (to me at least). I must point out that I had consumed a few drinks at this point so may have editorialised a little but there was definitely a conversation about how ConnectingHR could be an agent provocateur to spur the CIPD to evolve but the challenge of getting people truly engaged with it beyond the current committed bunch remained significant.

Episode 3: Thursday Oct 20, The Spring, venue of Unconference

I then had a conversation with a fellow unconference attendee yesterday @samlizars about what would happen if you walked 10 big hitting HRDs into the unconference. Would it completely stifle the free and open conversation? Would the HRDs feel frustrated about the lack of structure or directly applicable ROI to their organisations? Or actually in order to achieve its true potential does the ConnectingHR community need some big hitting practitioners to get involved and help it evolve? Another point of interest in the conversation was the perception (at least from Sam & my perspectives) about how little those big hitters ‘publically’ network and that actually getting your message to them was quite tricky.

Where this leaves me in my reflections I’m not quite sure. Likewise I’m not sure where ConnectingHR is on its journey. Whether it will remain a community of great people wanting to support and challenge one another or whether the horizon has a tipping point which could see it play a role in driving broader change is yet to see. Personally, I am frustrated that more practitioners aren’t engaging and taking the opportunity to get involved but would ‘they’ levy the charge that we just haven’t done enough to help/make them engage?

As it’s after midnight (and I’ve just had to edit all the todays into yesterdays) I think it’s time to stop reflecting and start sleeping but in closing there are a few people I would like to make specific reference to as contributing to my day at the unconference:

Natasha (@StirtheSource) for some great conversations

Gavin (@gmcglyne) for not only telling me I was talking bollocks but then using a Michael Jackson song to make his point

Dave (@Changecontinuum) for a great chat and some interesting thoughts and context

Michael (@MJCarty) for great departure from a comfort zone and fighting his corner

Sam (@samlizars) likewise for some great conversations (in addition to those referenced here)

Sarah (@sarahfmatthews) for great homemade biscuits and being one of the few people who has achieved genuinely embarrassing me (but in the nicest way)

And finally Gareth (@garelaos) who is just the guvnor (although probably cross with me for writing this!)

To the rest of the usual suspects, doffed caps and thanks for a good day.




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5 responses to “The one where the unconference strikes back

  1. Doug Shaw

    Super post Rob. What a lovely way to start the day – thanks for sharing.

  2. Re the HRDs -I think it’s a good point. I think the #tru unconferences benefit from bringing in ‘speakers’ and connectingHR would do too. I suppose it depends how purist you want to be about the format but bring in big hitters and you would also attract more people, which isn’t a bad thing. As you say, it all comes down to where connectinghr is headed . . .

  3. Hmm guvnor? Not so sure about that 😉 Thank you for sharing your thoughts and the positive comments about the event and the connectinghr community. The unconference is what it is, because of what it is, if you know what i mean! I guess it will go where the people want it to go.

    Big hitters? Who are they? Ok, so there is the usual subjects. Yes it would be great to have some more higher profile HR leaders there, but I reckon it would be better for them to come along and be in on the conversation – not to ‘speak’. Well not unless they stuck to the pecha kucha rules. And they would have to stay – none of this “gotta fly, busy day old chap” malarky.

    At the end of the day, its organic. You cant force it. I think there will be a tipping point, but where it is im not sure. But with each event, the momentum grows so watch this space i guess.

    And maybe @neilmorrison should actually attend himself one day – after all, he is a bit of a “big hitter” himself isn’t he?! 😉

  4. Pingback: The one where it must evolve | Masters or Bust

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