This Time of Night

by Matthew Stollak on Friday, November 13, 2009

On the heels of attending HREvolution, I will be heading to Arlington, VA next week to attend the SHRM National Leadership Conference for the 10th consecutive year. Like HREvolution, you will have a significant number (in this case, significantly more, as the conference has drawn upwards of 1000 people in the past) of passionate HR professionals striving to develop and contribute to the profession they value. The attendees are ALL volunteers who dedicate their time, energy, and resources to make HR a better place in their community.

For me, it will be an interest point of comparison. In Louisville, there was a vibrant discussion over the future of HR. Will similar discussion be taking place both in sessions and with each other in the hallways? Will any session focus on how chapters can enhance their online presence like we see at chapters such as Big Bend SHRM and HR Gumbo? How many of the 10% of top HR leaders and differentiators will be in attendance and making their voice heard?

I am reminded of the movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Throughout the movie, Roy Neary (played by Richard Dreyfuss), and others like him, are haunted by images of the Devil’s Tower in Wyoming (he makes a giant replica in his basement, his counterpart, Jillian, makes hundreds of drawings). He eventually makes it near the monument only to be captured by the U.S. Army, and then escapes. Dr. Claude Lacombe (Francois Truffault) wants to understand what drew these individuals to the monument:

“This is a small group of people who shared, in common, in their minds, a vision (he goes to the window and points to Devil’s Tower). It is to me still a mystery but they are here and they do not even know why.” Later, “I must find out what this means. Maybe, it is the meaning! (angry pause) I believe for every one of these confused people there must be hundreds also touched by the implanted vision but never made it this far. How many others missed the television news and never made the … psychic connection!”

Lacombe makes a final plea to the army officers not to go after Neary and his compatriots with a sleep aerosol as they climb Devil’s Tower: “We do not choose this place. We do not choose this time. We do not choose these people. To stop them is not for us to choose.”

How many Roy Neary’s are there in the HR profession who haven’t made the connection via Twitter, Google Wave, a blog or even their local SHRM chapter? How many would have been drawn to an event like HREvolution, but were simply unaware as they missed “the tevelevision news?” How will word spread to those who have a calling to make a difference, and remain untapped? SHRM has a golden opportunity next week to be bold and connect with a willing HR audience. I’m anxious to see if it occurs.


Good post, like you I will be interested to see what comes out of the recent discussions of the future of HR. And if I see you building a model of Devil's Tower on your table, I will understand.

See you there.


by Anonymous on November 13, 2009 at 11:55 AM. #

Matt, that is a great analogy. I've been rolling an idea like that around in my head all week - there are SO MANY people who could make a difference, if they only knew how. I was one of them for a very long time. I'm still not sure if I know how, but I know there are others willing to help me find the way. Please post what happends at SHRM.

You rock.


by Joan E. Ginsberg on November 13, 2009 at 1:30 PM. #

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