Monday 3 December 2012

Speaking at SHRM Annual Conference


   I’ll  also be speaking about social media at SHRM’s annual conference in Chicago next Summer.  Actually, my session won’t just be about social media, but all of the various elements of an organisation that help us develop its social capability.  Social media is the newest of these enablers, and in some situations it’s likely to be the most important, but many of the other tools we have at our disposal have the potential to be even more impactful.

My proposal was actually a response to reading the tweets and blog posts about Malcolm Gladwell’s session in Atlanta last year.  I love Gladwell’s thinking, but I didn’t think he linked his inputs to the activities HR already understands, or the social technologies with which it is becoming increasingly comfortable.  So I wasn’t sure that HR practitioners would be able to maximise the opportunities that social network design provides.

So I wrote:

“Malcolm Gladwell has introduced SHRM attendees to the importance of networks and social organisations as opposed to hierarchies. Many are now conversant with social media. But these are just a couple of the many tools available to HR to redefine its focus.

The point of performance in most organisations has for a long while been the team. And increasingly, this focus is being supplemented by the increasing importance of communities and networks too. So why is it that most of what we do in HR focuses on individual – their engagement and capability etc, and on whole organisations – structure and processes etc. Why don’t we focus more on the white space between these levels – the relationships between our people?

These relationships are important. The value of relationships, or social capital, potentially provides the largest and most untapped source of competitive advantage within a resource based strategy (which is also increasingly being seen as the main opportunity for competitive success as opposed to strategic positioning or the use of core competencies).

Increasingly, organisations are attempting to influence their peoples’ relationships, mostly through the use of social media and networking (enterprise 2.0). These efforts are typically led by IT. However, the success of these tools depends on effective behaviour and cultural change and hence this really falls within HR’s remit. In addition, many more traditional tools from HR’s kitbag can be used to develop social relationships. These include team based HR activities, facilitation, organisation development, community focused leadership development, workplace design etc.

The key need is not simply to use all the potential tools but to shift HR’s focus onto this new agenda – using social networks and technologies to enable social capital – this is the New HR.”


And I’m on:


I hope I’ll get to see you there!


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