Tapping The Collective Intellect of SHRM (#SHRMAdvice)

One of the biggest values of being a member of an organization like SHRM, or any professional network for that matter, is access to the collective wisdom of its membership. SHRM is a massive global organization; with over 250,000 members and 575 affiliated chapters in 140 countries. Think about that for a moment. Amongst its membership, there likely is not a single HR or talent issue that has not been tackled by dozens of members.

How do we, the membership, tap into this collective intellect?

We can look to inspiration from some peer review models like GitHub and Quora. Let’s review how these platforms define themselves.

GitHub: GitHub is the best place to share code with friends, co-workers, classmates, and complete strangers. Over three million people use GitHub to build amazing things together.

Quora: Quora’s mission is to share and grow the world’s knowledge.

Both of these platforms take an open-source approach to sharing knowledge. Millions of users willingly contribute their time and expertise to help their respective peer communities. Imagine if we found a way to harness this spirit within the HR community?

SHRM 2012 HR blogger crew.

SHRM 2012 HR blogger crew.

Technically we already do, but not at scale. We have twitter chats, LinkedIn groups, Facebook pages, Google Plus groups, Slideshare, email lists, etc. We also have many peers in the HR blogger community who freely share their presentations and training materials. All of these channels provide value to the bettering of our field. The shortcomings are that the value is incremental, hard to find, and often times shared between the same peer networks – and not reaching those in our community who would benefit the most from this information.

How do we get this collective intellect to more people?

It doesn’t to be a high-tech custom-built platform like Quora or GitHub, though the investment by SHRM could pay big dividends and lead to a member-contributed resource center (hint, hint). It could be as simple as a hashtag. Let’s call it #SHRMQs. Together with SHRM, the HR blogger community can help promote this as a destination to share resources and ask questions. Yes, I realize it would be hosted within Twitter which has  limitations (real-time nature of Twitter, no file saving/tagging capabilities, and lack of familiarity with many in our community). The upside is that is has zero cost so could be implemented immediately, and would be a reason to get more of our HR colleagues participating in social media.

Fistful of Talent live from The Hive at SHRM 2012 (credit: Dice)

Fistful of Talent live from The Hive at SHRM 2012 (credit: Dice)

SHRM has made good strides over the past several years under Curtis Midkiff’s (@SHRMSMG) leadership. The Hive and Smart Bar at SHRM Annual are good illustrations of tapping into the expertise of the HR blogger network. This is valuable for conference attendees, but with full conference schedules and attendance by less than 10% of the membership each year, we’re missing the majority of our members. We also miss out on the opportunity to learn from our peers who may not be active participants in social media.

These are a few ideas. The aim of this post wasn’t to present an absolute solution, but to plant a seed.

If we find a way to truly tap into the SHRM membership’s collective intellect, the value of our membership increases exponentially.

3 thoughts on “Tapping The Collective Intellect of SHRM (#SHRMAdvice)

  1. Lars…as an FYI, collective repositories of knowledge such as GitHub are comprised of as many great morsels as positively heinous ones; there’s no barrier to entry (same as Quora). Most morsels are probably average.

    However, there’s a great big difference between a github and a SHRM community – one is open source (meaning the community ACTIVELY “improves” itself) and the other is still trying to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up. I know what you’re trying to do but is SHRM ready to compare itself to the Mozilla Foundation?

    Technology has by it’s very nature continuously pushed itself; is there truly an analogous Moore’s Law that can apply to human resources? Perhaps this is a blog topic for some of us “out there” types.

    People like me or Tom Bolt don’t fit the mold of “standard” HR types but we’re the very ones needed – along with folks like Janine Truitt and Joey Price – to “#OccupyTheTable” and help the 90% of average or worse HR folks see how change and open communities are good for the function.

    Curtiss, Aliah Wright and you can’t do it alone…

    • Hey Steve – You’re right that not all the content on those platforms is valuable, but the cream rises to the top in peer review platforms and you can usually find what you’re looking for. I know Curtis and Co can’t do it all, but lets looks at a low tech solution like #SHRMQs.

      If I’m tasked with a project I haven’t done before (like a recent OFCCP initiative) and had a vehicle I could get get that question out to that would get me recommendations and resources – that’s tapping the collective intellect. This may come easier to you and I, as we’ve worked hard to cultivate a diverse network, but could be valuable to the SHRM community-at-large.

      • “Could be valuable” is a gross understatement; “excellence” requires one to always be pushing out and redefining boundaries – which SHRM has shown it is collectively lacking. Did you hear yesterday where the new IRS head admitted that the agency is broken? SHRM’s leaders need to do the same thing – because more than a few folks are convinced that HR is broken….

        The problem with the cream rising to the top is that many coffee drinkers don’t like cream – they think its too fattening…

        Unlike others I’m not cynical about HR; I’m an engineer who knows that (a) structure begets function and (b) if you authentically repaint a Victorian house without checking the foundation for termites it might look good for a bit but it will eventually collapse.

        In the NYC area, I’m involved in both the NJ and NY staffing SIGs; being a resource is part of my DNA – as is yours – but we’re invisible to those who need our expertise the most. The building of an #SHRMQs “intranet” will be a resource to the scant few unless it can be tied into recertification. Perhaps what’s needed is a Reddit-like thumbs up/down feed by topic that is tightly integrated into the white paper section of SHRM with weekly “Top Tips of the Week” – and tie the top tips leaderboard into annual fee reduction or expenses paid for annual SHRM conferences….

        Just thinking out loud Lars…

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