Reputations are important. Good ones seem somehow fragile. Bad ones, much less so. And they are also affected by how long your relationship with them is. I want to stop a while and reflect on how people perceive the CIPD.

Compared to a lot of people in and around HR, my relationship with the CIPD is still young, and thus far I’ve found it very progressive. And yet I meet a lot of people, some members, some ex-members, some not yet members, many of whom think the CIPD is a pretty poor show. And typically their perceptions are based on stories from the past.

I’d like to share with you my views on the CIPD – based on my experiences in 2011. Three things that stand out for me this year are the CIPD Annual conference, the CIPD Social Media in HR conference and the CIPD’s presence on Twitter.

CIPD Annual Conference

I attended this year’s CIPD conference (my first time) as a member of the press. Well, as a guest blogger at least. I had a cool pass that said ‘Doug Shaw – Blogger Blogger’. When I say I had a pass, I confess, I’ve kept it. Nerdy huh?

I had a really good time. I rushed about listening to some interesting folks, and I wrote about these experiences. I put together five blog posts over two days which may not sound much but trust me, I was knackered! The CIPD provided the technical facilities for me to upload my scribblings, and not a hint of editorial control was requested. And the CIPD staff were super helpful. A fun, useful, mutually beneficial experience.

Social Media in HR Conference

I was one of the speakers at this year’s Social Media in HR conference, organised by the CIPD. I was among a raft of established HR practitioners, and the CIPD asked me to talk about enhancing engagement and participation using social tools. I’m sure they could have found another practitioner to cover this slot, and they chose me. The CIPD provided everything I needed to deliver my talk and not a hint of editorial control was requested. Guess what, yep – the CIPD staff were super helpful. I overcame my nerves and did a good job. The day was a fun, useful, mutually beneficial experience.


My year on Twitter has been fantastic, and made so by many people. People including Natalia, Robert, Bingleby, NatalieKaty, Anna and Johanna, all from the CIPD. We exchange useful stuff, and conversational fun stuff too. The human side of the organisation shines through.

Declaration of Interests

I’m not a member of the CIPD. I’m not paid by the CIPD. I’m not controlled by the CIPD and they’re certainly not controlled by me! The CIPD didn’t ask me to write this, they will find out about it the same time as you. And they’re not perfect by any means. For example I wonder how much more buzz might have been created at the recent social media conference had they been bolder and set a more affordable ticket price?

Based on my experience, the CIPD are trying hard to change, to evolve and to be more receptive. I think I’m living proof of their efforts. If your perception of the CIPD is based on the distant past, why not catch up with a more recent version?


I was a participant and speaker at the CIPD Social Media in HR conference yesterday. My overall impression of the event was *thumbs up*. I met some interesting people, heard some interesting speakers and as a speaker, everything I needed to deliver to the best of my abilities was taken care of. It’s been said before and I’ll say it again – the CIPD events team are on the ball.

It’s interesting to see how the increasing use of Twitter in events is distilling things. Maybe my ‘pre-match’ nerves aided my inability to really concentrate, and I find a lot of what I’m recalling came as a result of an active Twitter stream. Here are just a few things that caught my eye and in some cases, puzzled me too.

Bill Parsons from ARM started the day reminding us that ‘people working together is what creates our value’. Bill also said that the HR strategy at ARM is the same as its marketing strategy – it’s all about connecting people. And he made references to many social tools that people at ARM use to share information, and even help recruit people into the business. When asked about how leaders should feel about adopting social media, Bill answered with a very sombre, ‘adapt or die’. I’m inclined to agree with him and at the same time it seems odd that his Twitter feed is locked and has 16 followers and is following 10 others. Come on Bill, get on board – adapt or die.

Mat Davies from Logica up next – great presenting style, and took the mickey out of himself nicely, ‘Mrs D reminded me this morning – just because you’ve a Twitter account doesn’t make you an expert!’ Mat acknowledged we’re in the middle of a communications rebellion. How true, and he referenced glassdoor as an example of this. Mat also said that control is no longer in our hands and Logica recognises its people are important in building the brand. I’ve not seen Mat in action since we worked together at BT and it was a pleasure to see him on such good form. Oh – and of course he kicked off the whole do we/don’t we need a social media policy….

…Which leads me nicely to the wonderful fireside chat which Matt Alder (who did excellent work as event chair), hosted with Alison Chisnell and Neil Morrison. A trio of legends if there ever were such a thing 🙂

Neil kicked us off with an assertion that we should stop doing dumb things (yay – I didn’t pay him, honest!) to each other, and from his point of view, writing a social media policy is one of those dumb things. Neil said we should use social media to encourage experimentation, and just accept that people will and do use social media for personal use. Neil says, ‘we’ve never felt the need to write an acceptable use of newspaper policy, so why have one for social media?’ He also underlined a point Mat made (which Mat had previously pinched from Neil – all good friends eh), along the lines of, ‘if productivity is a challenge for you then social media’s not the problem.

Alison spoke about her companies open minded approach to social media, reflected in the way Alison has been asked to run how to sessions on blogging and twitter for her board of directors and others in the organisation. Alison made a great observation which for some reason seemed to go largely unnoticed. She said that her ability to use these tools and to help others do likewise, gave her influence. And who doesn’t like to be able to influence? Often I see HR folk agonising over justifying a place at the top table and other such stuff. For what it is worth my advice would be, do an Alison Chisnell. Learn these skills, practice them yourself and help others around you to use them. Gain influence through excellence.

After a short break for coffee (loads of buzzing conversation, so much nicer than avoiding folks trying to sell you stuff in an exhibition methinks), we heard from Hayley Brown at The Big Lottery Fund (BLF). She showed us a nifty induction cartoon movie and said that for her company, ‘social is about determination to learn and curiosity unleashed.’ Hayley also talked about how folks at BLF can search for projects online by tagging, following etc. and how project owners can look for help exactly the same way. Then we cut to Samantha Hackett from Save the Children. Samantha talked about how they use social tools for action planning and to help deliver just in time bite sized training for staff. And Sam talked about trips to Bangladesh where she discovered most kids over 8 have full time jobs. And they all have mobiles, which will be how they can be reached and possibly helped by charities like Save the Children. Sam came across as straightforward and practical, her talk was quietly moving. Christine Bamford from the NHS closed this session with the help of some great video contributions from her trust CEO. Christine talked about the importance of taking everyone on the journey and being social inside and outside the organisation. Vitally important.

Next up was Martijn from Deloitte. I felt Martijn was hampered by a deck of very heavy, wordy, diagrammy, dare I say it – typical big consultancy practice slides. Powerful snippets like ‘Why do people leave organisations? Because they don’t feel connected to it.’ got lost in a blur of PowerPoint busyness. Martijn revealed a degree of nervousness among Deloitte people speaking openly on social media in case they say bad things about a customer or potential customer. And he told us that people are very competitive in Deloitte. They need to be rewarded in order to share knowledge. I have to say I found that rather anti social.

We had a short ‘surgery’ session where a panel of five of us took a few questions from the audience. I recall a good devil’s advocate one about spending too much time on line, on social tools. Will there be presenteeism type pressure? I acknowledged this is a danger so long as companies contract people to work x hours instead of focussing on outputs and outcomes. And the wonderful Jose Franca told his Christmas tree tale – you had to be there! I’m sure brighter folks than me gave more useful answers – but I’m afraid my tummy was rumbling too much to hear them.

Lunchtime. Good food, and a great buzz of conversation again. I ate quickly then slunk off to panic quietly. I had the post lunch slot and the standard in the room was high, I was nervous.

I spoke about using social to encourage engagement and participation. I told a few stories from my experiences of linking employee and customer engagement. Some successes, some mistakes. Well we all make them and they’re where the best learning comes from eh.

We then watched Emilie Dixon from AutoDesk blasting, Matt Jeffery style through a very high impact, visual presentation on the many ways AutoDesk are using social to share, recruit, and all kinds of other things. They’ve integrated all kinds of platforms really neatly – Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube. You name it, they’re playing with it. I was very impressed with what Emilie showed us, Matt would have been proud I’ve no doubt.

Sadly I had to leave at the afternoon coffee break (parent’s evening at Keira’s school) so I missed Gareth, Jose and others finish off the day. I also missed the Tweetup afterwards. You can’t win them all. On the plus side, I read the Twitter stream on the train out of London and was bowled over with the feedback from my talk – and about the event in general. Here’s a snapshot of some stats from event courtesy of Gareth Jones, and another perspective on the event from HR Bullets.  This felt like a big step for the CIPD and I think it went well. I was certainly very pleased to be asked to help.

If you’ve any further comment and want to share links to other event content feel free, I’d love to hear from you.


Innovation Incongruence

It’s no secret that I don’t have a lot of time for Vance Kearney. He comes across as a really poor listener and I don’t think his arrogance serves him, his colleagues or his customers well. And in the interest of balance it seems I’m in a minority if his fourth placing in HR Magazine’s influential list is anything to go by.

I and others have previously challenged him in response to two articles on HR Magazine. The first where Kearney seems to want to bury his head in the sand and ignore reality and the second where he just seemed to make no sense on engagement being quoted as follows, “I like employees to be engaged and motivated. I like them to be dead and not dead. I don’t think anyone’s ever tested it. There is a lack of rigour around the subject.” The written challenges made to Mr Kearney which he never responded to are now gone. When HR Magazine changed owners recently they tell me that a switch from two servers to one meant they lost all their article comments and discussions. Oops!

So when I learned that Vance Kearney was in a panel discussion at the CIPD conference I ummed and ahhed and decided to give it a miss. He and I rub each other up the wrong way and I had plenty of much more enjoyable stuff to see and do. I kept an eye on the emerging Twitter feed and learned that he chose to insult one of the delegates (disagreement is the food of life, but calling a conference attendee an arsehole is going too far for me). The tweeter may have misheard but something unpleasant was certainly uttered as you can see here over at Jon Ingham’s blog.

In September this year when I spotted Jon had tweeted Vance Kearney had been booked to attend the most recent ConnectingHR unconference I confess I was worried. I don’t care how influential Kearney is I don’t think his rude, arrogant approach sits well in a community focussed set up. For whatever reason he never showed and I for one am very pleased he didn’t.

Kearney also said “No significant innovation has ever come by asking a customer what they want – they will have no concept until you present it to them”. If you Google Oracle Customer Innovation you can see that Oracle were running customer innovation days as recently as last month. Perhaps Kearney should tell the rest of his colleagues they’re just wasting their time and money, or maybe he could just cuss at them instead – I guess that at least is quicker.

I and doubtless many others have spent years innovating with customers. When I worked at BT we innovated with customers on communications and product  solutions to meet their needs, joint sustainability innovation to improve supply chain standards, and plenty of other things too. And more recently we (that’s me and my customers, and their customers) invest time innovating and experimenting with better ways of working together. Sure they don’t all succeed but hey – that’s the point of innovation ain’t it? And of course we innovate without customers sometimes too.

Ask, listen, innovate, execute and repeat. It’s a simple enough process and the ask at the start, yes the bit that Kearney dismisses, is a great place to begin as far as I, and seemingly Kearney’s employers are concerned.