Baby Steps Are For Infants, Not HR Organizations

It’s been almost 4 years since I fully embraced social media, and 3 years since I started blogging. One of the things I loved about social media from the start was the ability to hook up with a lot of really smart people and hear their thoughts and ideas about business.

One of the recurring themes that I have heard repeatedly during this social media journey is that innovation and movement, whether personal or professional,  requires taking risks and willingness to fail. People in the social media business space are fond of quoting other smart people like Wayne Gretzky (“You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”), Frederick Wilcox (“Progress always involves risk. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.”), or Jim McMahon (“Yes, risk-taking is inherently failure prone. Otherwise it would be called ‘sure-thing taking.’ “)

So why do we make exceptions when it comes to HR and the adoption of social media? I have been told many times that the adoption of social media requires baby steps, and that I am wrong to suggest that we push our associations and HR business units harder to adopt effective social strategies.


Real change and innovation in companies, organizations, and associations doesn’t come from acting like a baby who does not have the physical or mental ability to leap. It comes from leaders who are not afraid to leap when it is necessary, knowing that failure is possible but that any failure will bring even more opportunities to learn and change.

Today, Curtis Midkiff, Director of Social Engagement for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), announced that SHRM was a finalist for a 2012 Social Media Leadership Award.  SHRM isn’t a finalist for this award because Curtis took baby-steps to introduce social networking in tiny increments – he took giant leaps since taking his job with SHRM in 2010. Yes, he had some help from volunteers, as he acknowledges in this Facebook post,  but the vision and execution – and risk – was his. From 5 bloggers at the annual conference in 2010, he moved to a massive social media team in 2012, with 100 bloggers, a dedicated space where attendees could get social media training, knowledge, and networking, and a special website specifically for social media news, blogs, and Twitter  before, during, and after the conference.

Those were the decisive moves of a leader, not the tottering steps of an infant who is going to fall down many times, while we all smile and take pictures.

HR and its related organizations should be following this type of leadership, and not making claims that baby steps are a more appropriate strategy.



3 thoughts on “Baby Steps Are For Infants, Not HR Organizations”

  1. Hi Joan,
    LOVE this post and your writing style. I totally agree that baby steps in today’s world will leave you behind and being considered a dinosaur. I have been trying to fly the innovation and collaboration flag for a long time now, with various degrees of resistance and wins, but if top leadership doesn’t believe in bold steps (whether HR or C-level), the baby steps will hinder true progress. I have to say that HR is probably the corporate division that is most resistant to change, for sure. And congrats to Curtis Midkiff for being a visionary in a very (what I guess used to be) old-school entity, SHRM, and bringing it to the Web 2.0 world.

  2. Thanks for visiting and for your comment, Suzy. While I agree that top-down leaders who believe in bold steps is helpful, they are not absolutely necessary. Sometimes HR – or others – may have to take those bold steps themselves.

    But baby steps are just a cop-out for everyone.

Comments are closed.