Tag Archives: Community

Community : Centre

Robert Ordever

I received an uplifting and moving email from Robert Ordever last Friday in the immediate aftermath of the 2013 CIPD Annual Conference. Robert wrote to Perry Timms and me with a wonderful reflection about what being at the conference meant for him, and for others too as it turned out. Perry sent the note on to Peter Cheese and we all thought it should be more widely read. Robert has kindly agreed so the good news is today, I get to shut up and hand over to Robert for a most lovely guest blog post.

Community Centre

I have dabbled in HR for around 15 years. I qualified after a couple of years of practicing because it was the right thing to do and for some years I have been a Chartered Fellow of the Institute.

If I am honest, I was a Fellow of an Institute I felt absolutely no connection with, in a profession I had very little time for. I was at times reluctant to say I was an HR professional and would caveat it with ‘but I’m not a stereotypical HR guy’.  I had, perhaps unfairly, judged the Institute and profession on the ‘safe’ rhetoric, obsession with process and the ever patronizing ‘seat at the top table’ debate.

Then along came Twitter and I started to discover other ‘non stereotypical HR folk’ aplenty. I found the social HR community and in doing so found a group who shared my passion for pushing the boundaries, for making work better, for prioritizing culture over process, for having conversations rather than networking and for being confident enough to challenge our own. I found people who were not ‘HR’ at all. Great people who just happened to earn a living in the people business.

The more I got to know them, the more I understood their sense of community. They are welcoming, unselfish, non-judgmental and have infectious energy. They are not in any way soft, unchallenging or safe.  Discovering unconferencing with these folk was a breath of fresh air. It was in many ways maverick but felt remarkably natural. It was not the normal bullshit, canvas bags or sales pitches I was used to at traditional conferences.

Imagine my surprise as I learned that the Institute had started to engage with some of these guys. Working with them, learning from them and involving them in shaping the direction of the Institute and the profession.  I have no idea if this is a new direction or something I simply hadn’t realised.

This discovery was the only reason I attended my first CIPD conference.

There has been plenty written about the content, but for me this conference was about community. I felt welcome and at home in every sense. Peter Cheese’s accessibility was remarkable and his attendance at HR Unscrambled was great to see.  Engaging the bloggers and tweeters with the event was a stroke of genius.

This week I finally felt proud to be a member of my Institute and profession. That is down to a community I am privileged to feel a part of.

Thanks Robert, have a great week folks.

Home is where the HeaRt is


This blog post is part of a collection created by various Human Resources professionals. This “Carnival” of HR posts centres around the theme of HR and Home. To read the rest of the collection click here. You’ll be glad you did!

Home is where the HeaRt is

I live with my wife Carole (married for 20 years) and daughter Keira (aged nine at the time of writing) on the far flung outskirts of London, about 10 miles due South from St Paul’s Cathedral. I’m confident about that distance because in a previous life as an employee for a global telco I would regularly cycle into London to work. A great fun, exhilarating and slightly dangerous way to start the day. Fun, exhilarating and slightly dangerous. I think I would use those words to describe many great cities I’ve visited and worked in along the way.

I love London because it’s a fantastic mashup. Conflicts (as I write this a dozen or more seagulls fly past the window hounding a much larger heron bird off their patch) and contrasts fascinate me , and London is full of them. History sits alongside brand new, smart alongside scruffy, rich and poor, grey and colourful.

My work has many shades, many contrasts. From one week to the next I may be speaking in conference, facilitating, consulting, blogging, writing music, painting a picture. My work is experimental with a little professional troublemaking on the side. I’m close enough to the centre of London to feel the buzz, and far enough away to feel on the edge. As a consultant and facilitator, I think it’s vital to be close to the edge, where the real exchanges get done. My physical location, near to and yet not in the centre of London, serves as a useful reminder of the importance of edge to me.

Being so close to a big city I’m fortunate to interact with many smart people face to face. Alison Chisnell and Neil Morrison stand out for me as being two bright people always happy to offer constructive, critical friendship. And though I’ve come to know them both well in real life, it was in the online space that we first met. Like so many other great HR people I have come to know, there is a pioneering wave of bright energy and friendship to contribute to and learn from. Recently it was my privilege to Skype with Jason Lauritsen and Joe Gerstandt. I met Jason and Joe in Ohio earlier this year and I’m excited to be catching up with them again. Online, in real life, twittering, facebooking, talking. I’m a tiny part of a fantastic conversational community.

I love that I live just two minutes from a semi-rural track that takes me quickly out to the country side and trails on my mountain bike. Big city to the left, big country to the right. And I love that we are a short walk from Keira’s school and a short train ride to more history and excitement than you can shake a stick at. I love London, and I think it quite likes me.

To close this post here is a lyrical quote from the song Camera Eye, by Canadian rock legends, Rush.

Wide angle watcher

On life’s ancient tales
Steeped in the history of London

Green and grey washes
In a wispy white veil
Mist in the streets of Westminster
Wistful and weathered
The pride still prevails
Alive in the streets of the city

The song (which also references New York City) has played its way through my heart and head for almost thirty years. These words paint a vivid picture for me and I was delighted when Rush played this song on their last tour. I think it’s an epic piece and I encourage you to grab a cuppa, and enjoy this awesome, engaging performance.