Gainesville Loves Innovation

Steve Boese Innovation, SHRM, Steve Boese

Earlier in the week the FOT crew (well actually just Tim Sackett and I), took to publicly lamenting our respective SHRM 2011 Annual Conference presenter proposal rejections. While getting rejected is never fun (and if you believe Sackett, is an entirely foreign experience), from the carnage of said rejections, I noticed something really interesting in one of the comments on Timbo’s piece. Gainesville

From ‘HRNancy’ –

SHRM National is missing out, you guys are great. Sign me up for the SHRMRS Unconference. You should really consider visiting FL in 2011. North Central FL SHRM would welcome you to present at our conference in February….either in person or via webcast. Gainesville loves innovation and your “style” of HR would fit right in.

Gainesville loves innovation.  It has a cool, ‘needs to be on a bumper sticker or billboard’ kind of vibe to it.  I’ve never been to Gainesville,  but it sounds like a pretty neat place.  After reading the comment a second time, and thinking about the original piece, and at least the perception of stodginess that many people have that SHRM, and I suppose pretty much any well-established, stable, and seemingly set in their ways organization can engender; I wonder if we are really doing enough inside our organizations and in our own teams to identify and exploit these kinds of ‘Gainesville’ sources or opportunities.

Looking for ideas, insights, and disruptions in the same places, from the same sources, and using the same tactics that the organization has relied on in the past is likely to lead to a recurrence of the same mediocre, uninspiring, and ‘sort of acceptable but not outstanding’ results that you’ve seen in the past.

So when we are out of ideas, or don’t truly know how to execute on the ideas that we have, it’s easy to turn to the safe and well understood choices.  We might tweet or update our company Facebook page with our latest job openings, but we also pay for a listing on Careerbuilder, since we’ve been posting with them for years, and our target candidates are well, comfortable there. We think.

Or we are considering some adjustments to our company provided benefits program and rather than set up an internal blog or discussion forum to really better understand what’s most important to the employees and what might be lacking in the current program, we immediately retain a big external consultancy to perform analysis, do benchmarking, and deliver a really fancy (glossy paper, nice charts, solid iStockphoto images of smiling worker bees), report that tells us exactly what we should do to craft a program that will be a hit with the rank and file.  We think.

And please don’t get me started on addressing perceived communication issues with the recommendation to hold regular pot-luck lunches or an off-site retreat at a ropes course in the woods.

It is really easy, and sort of feels safe to stick with the familiar and non-threatening. I am sure it was a pretty easy decision for SHRM to stamp ‘reject’ on the FOT crew’s presentation submissions since they did not seem to fit the mold and slot in their 7,363rd session on changes in employment law or an attorney advising HR how to protect precious company secrets from being leaked on Twitter. Not for nothing, but has that EVER actually happened?

Do yourself and your organization a favor, the next time the answer seems obvious, conventional, or natural, take just a moment to think it over again.  Because truly, where is innovation more likely to thrive?  In the same places where you hope it still exists? Or somewhere new, unexpected, or unexplored?

Or is it in a place like Gainesville?

Gainesville loves innovation.

Steve Boese

Steve Boese is fondly known to many as the HR Technology blogger. By day, he is the Co-Chair of Human Resource Executive’s HR Technology Conference. He is also a former Director of Talent Management Strategy at Oracle and an HR Technology instructor. Steve can also be found hosting the HR Happy Hour Show and Podcast … you know, where a bunch of HR pros get together and call in to talk about HR stuff. Sounds like an SNL skit, we know. But when you have Dave Ulrich, the grandfather of HR as show guests, well, I guess you’re doing something right.  Talk to Steve via emailLinkedInTwitter or Facebook.