The one where the contrast is lost

Barack Obama travels in style – whether it be Airforce One, Marine One or ‘The Beast’; the President of the United States is well catered for when it comes to transportation. However, if I had a question about transport infrastructure, I wouldn’t ask the person who manages it for the White House. I wouldn’t have the same requirement, resources or infrastructure to make what I’m sure would be excellent advice relevant to me or the organisation I was working for. That may seem a strange thing to open a post about people with but I promise I’ll return to it.

Yesterday I attended a session at #cipd11 which was all about HR & Social Media. To be honest I wasn’t going to write a post about it, the main reason being that Doug Shaw wrote two great posts (here & here) which didn’t seem to need adding to….but things moved on and here we are.

The session had 2 speakers – Neil Morrison, Group HRD at Random House and Matthew Hanwell, HR Director, Community & Social Media for Nokia. Neil’s half of the session concerned how Random House have approached their employees usage of social media and how they use it as part of engaging their teams but also for engaging with authors and readers. It was an interesting session and the thing that struck me was it was very portable – to do what Random House have done you only need buy in not capex.

Then came Matthew whose session was likewise very interesting and concerned how social media is now part of the way Nokia operates. How transparent communication and collaboration has developed their organisation and shared some great stuff about what they do and how they do it. However (and there had to be a however) what Matthew and Nokia have done requires significant investment both in terms of technology and resource. It requires a reengineering of internal communication and is only likely to feasible and valuable in an organisation that like Nokia is big and global.

I enjoyed the session and came away with plenty to think about and have already shared some of the content with people I know who were not in attendance.

Where it got interesting was in the write up published in People Management Daily (a version of People Management produced at the conference). If you were to read this article you would not know that Neil was there. There was absolutely no mention of him or his content. The article focussed purely on Matthew’s content.

Given the number of big global companies and the rest I was surprised at the exclusion of ‘the first half’ because for my thinking it would be as relevant if not more so to 95% of HR Practitioners who may be trying to move their organisations towards embracing social media. Even for the big global players, trying to start the journey what Neil discussed in terms of behaviour would be incredibly relevant.

Is this indicative of HR’s obsession with “shiny” when actually what delivers real organisational value for most of us is good stuff done well? To return to the original analogy what we ended up reading about was a fascinating insight into Barack Obama’s transport infrastructure when what we could have read about was the contrast between that and people who deliver results with a Toyota Avensis and a Premium Economy seat on Virgin….

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “The one where the contrast is lost

  1. It’s certainly an interesting point of view you present here, Rob. My immediate response though, surprisingly, is, are we in danger of just defending a friend?

    I too took the time to go through and see what was said in the write up about the day’s presentations. And, accurate reporting aside, the report was still full of useful information about the content of the day.

    The issue I think you’re addressing here is about the reporting of the content. Doug’s post on Neil’s subject was certainly full of top quality information about Neil’s part of the presentation. So, why would People Management choose not to give his the same level of reporting as they did for Nokia? Should we take them to account for not delivering a full and proper view of what was covered? Should PM now have to respond to defend themselves?

  2. Sukh, thanks for your comment. I fear (given what you say) that I have not made my point well enough.

    Neil is a grown up who is more than capable of defending himself and actually I wouldn’t dream of trying to fight any percieved battle for him.

    The point I was attempting to make was that PM (which is the official magazine of the CIPD as you know) focussed their article 100% on the Nokia content which is only applicable to a small number of businesses whilst overlooking the other content which in my opinion is far more relevant to most employers in the UK.

    Whilst you (and many others) are comfortable to get a full view from reading Doug’s post, my point is the PM chose to take the view on cool rather than the view on relevant.

    Hope that makes sense….

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