Allow me to preface this brief diatribe with the following disclaimer: When it comes to “Strategy Conferences,” I’ll admit to being somewhat cynical.

In this case, I’m referring to the SHRM Strategy Conference scheduled for October 2012 in beeautiful Palm Springs, CA. Three days of networking, workshops, speakers, and “inspiration.” I’m looking at my invitation right now, and I gotta tell you it appears to be a hell of an opportunity to work on my golf game.  But seriously……the line-up is pretty loaded with heavy hitters; Linda Rottenberg, Deepak Chopra, and David Novak are all on the podium ~ that’s a lot of sizzle in exchange for your $HRM recertification dollar. If you manage your meal per diem and stay away from the bar scene, you might be able to pull off the trip for under $10,000. Now that, ladies & gentleman, is the kind of corporate training we can all enjoy.

Case studies, knowledge “expansion and exchange” sessions, dinner receptions ~ what’s not to like?

Here’s what galls me. The group of attendees will be Senior HR Executives from around the Globe. This is a very dangerous group of people ~ to rise to the top of Corporate America in a Human Resources role, chances are you have lost


“so, how ’bout those Engagement Surveys?”

the fire in your belly that got you there. Generally speaking, the game-changers in HR don’t make it to the top, or if they do it’s for a very short time – by the time they recognize their efforts will forever be compromised by the “Senior HR” exec (if not the CEO), they take their ball and leave to play in a bigger game. Imagine the op-ed writer who finally tires of the stern censorship of his Editor in Chief, and you get an accurate analogy.  Nope, the people who rise and stay at the top of the HR organizations in the land of Fortune 500 stay there by playing the game safely. Fat salary, fat bonus, very little in the way of any measurable performance standards =  Nirvana. Being temporarily inspired by Ms. Rottenberg’s amazing accomplishments (seriously, her resume will embarrass you) in the field of internal entrepreneurship won’t necessarily change the M.O. back at the mother-ship.

Like I said, I’m jaded, so sue me. But, my prediction is that 3 days of cocktail receptions, motivational speakers, and case studies are being largely wasted on what I consider part of the problem in Human Resources ~ the Senior Leadership. Change your focus, get the “young & hungrys” before they leave HR for a different course of professional success, or become consultants (couldn’t resist); don’t wait too long, titles tend to mellow an individual.

p.s. ~ I probably blew my invite for next year, huh?

John “Whit” Whitaker is Founder and OH (Original Hardballer); like this post? Try this one, this one, or even this one….go ahead, don’t be a weenie.