Saturday, 6 November 2010

Why I support Influencer lists


  I particularly enjoyed this post from ‘TheHRD’ earlier this week.  But I’ve already commented to say that I don’t totally agree with him.

Given my connection to this topic (having just been blogging on it quite extensively, and being one of the people on one of the lists as well) I wanted to expand on my reasoning for suggesting it’s important.



HR is now obsessed (I’d suggest too obsessed) with measurement.  And we know we should be measuring more of what’s important.

So are we saying influence isn’t important?  That would be dumb.  It is and it always will be – it’s just the way influence is exerted that’s changing.

So if it’s important, we should try to measure it.  As I said in my comment to the HRD, I don’t think our current ways of measuring it work that well.

Actually, I was with Sian Harrington from HR Magazine on the day the HRD’s post came out and explained to her that I wasn’t criticising their research methodology.  (I was criticising the nous of HRDs who had unthinkingly selected people who had, for example, left the UK years before (and have no noticeable impact on the global stage).

But I don’t think we should criticise our desire to measure it – within our organsiations – and across our profession as well.



Influence is changing.  It’s becoming more social, and more online as well.

John Sumser is leading the way in new ways of measuring both of these kinds of influence.  His lists are also, and deservedly, criticised – but again, I don’t think we should criticise the attempt.

Yes, there are better ways of measuring influence - I’m a fan of social network analysis for example (and can conduct one in your organisation for you).

But no one has figured out to conduct an SNA across a whole profession, so at the moment, John’s HRExaminer lists are about the best thing that we have (see more on influence in HR Examiner here and here.



The last reason I think we should support HR influencer lists is their connection to talent management.

Linked to my point on social influence, talent is increasingly less about individual ability to have an impact, and much more about having impact through networks and relationships.

Yet in his work on SNAs, Rob Cross suggests just 10-20% of those the most connected, key influencers in most organisations are members of these organisations’ talent pools.

We need to better understand influence, so that we can be sure we’re identifying and measuring talent in the right way.



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