For Better HR – Quit Learning About HR

Paul Hebert Audacious Ideas, Bad HR, Conferences, Good HR, HR, Paul Hebert

I think the best thing you can do for a career, and for a life for that matter, is read as much as you can. And not just tweets and shampoo bottles in the bathroom.

I mean good blogs, well-documented articles, top writers on Medium.

And read outside your domain. Wide and far is my motto.

Exposure to new ideas outside your area of interest.

Here’s the problem in my simple mind.

I follow a ton of HR people. And they follow a ton of HR people. We all follow the same happy shiny people. Every HR conference has the same people speaking. Same stories, different time. Bill Boorman of Tru fame linked to a 10-year old post he wrote after TruLondon and it could have been written yesterday.

HR is a huge echo chamber and it’s just getting bigger. That isn’t good for the practice or the practitioner. It’s a formula for 20 years of stagnant employee engagement scores. It’s a formula for rebranding the same idea every 5 years from satisfaction to engagement, to empowerment, to experience to who the heck cares. It’s the same stuff, different dress.

I know there are outliers who have adopted practices such as agile and design thinking. Some conferences seek to break from the pack by inviting different speakers (read celebrity for PR but not for HR) rather than the same SHRM state conference speaker mafia. But those are drops of water in a tsunami of HR content.

HR needs to break out and be committed to finding and embedding in new areas. And not the “I experimented in college” type of commitment but a full-on change in focus.

So for 2020, I issue the following 3 challenges for HR Pros:

  1. If you run a conference, for the next 3 years, don’t invite anyone to speak who has EVER worked in HR and/or has been an HR consultant. Hire a fire breather or a sheep-shearer. I don’t care.
  2. If you are a consumer of blog content – don’t read another blog on HR – including FOT – sorry Kris – someone has to take one for the profession for one year – it might as well be us.
  3. Don’t follow Bersin, or Tincup or me. Don’t follow anyone in HR with more than 1,000 followers. Follow AR/VR people. Follow psychologists, psychiatrists, veterinarians, mommy bloggers, extreme couponers. It doesn’t matter.

If you need to follow some policy wonk because your job is understanding legal risk, then do that. No one needs to get fired over this. You surely won’t get fired for not reading my blog.

The point is that the more things your brain is exposed to, the more things your brain can connect with and create.

If you only know two things you can only think of two ideas. But if you know 10 things, believe it or not, there are 3,628,800 possible combinations of ideas in there. And that is only knowing 10 things!!!

Adding just ONE MORE idea will bring your total to 39,916,800 ideas – a 10 fold increase!

It’s called a factorial. Learn to love it.

Continuing to ONLY read HR content means you only have 1 thing to use as raw material for new ideas. That isn’t good.

Factorial your butt off. Read more. Consume more. Expand.

Cultivate your multipotentiality. Yes – I’m forcing 47.5% of you to go to the web and figure out what that means.

But it’s good for you. Do it.

Be a voice, not an echo.

Talk to you in a year!