SHRM 2 - People 0
Can you believe that SHRM, the professional association that represents the people in charge of labor relations, was publicly scolded by the non-profit that controls Internet naming? Of course you can. What’s new? The long trod path to mediocrity is a slippery slope. You knew they were headed there. SHRM just slipped all the way into the mud.

You walk by the street fight and wonder how you can ever take responsibility in a world where both sides are so totally and bizarrely wrong. The problem has infected our culture from stem to stern. At the highest levels, politics is a weaponized food fight. At the lowest levels, separating the greedy from the stupid is like picking fly shit out of the pepper.

That’s the only way you can explain a financial crisis where the Bank CEOs became billionaires and the borrowers got blamed. Try wrapping your mind around the fact that people who negotiated a contract (teachers) are now to be blamed for the fact that they have to take the inevitable cram down. How do you find pride in a system that runs on polarization and the desperate grasping of the lowest common denominator. Every single “we’re right and they’re wrong argument”t resembles a sequel to Dumb and Dumber.

In the 1930s, C.V.R. Thompson once said, “Washington is the only place where sound travels faster than light.” Somehow, the culture began to emulate all that is Washington. Today, much of academia, many professional associations and all of online commerce depend on keeping things dark. When Forrest Gump said, “Stupid is as stupid does”, who knew he was forecasting the future.

Over the past couple of years, lots of us have worked hard to make allowances for the folks at SHRM HQ. You could understand why social media was so scary and threatening. Representing the most conservative organizational function is a challenging project. Figuring out how to do the whole trade association thing is complex, particularly when you’ve decided against industry leadership as a strategy.

In a difficult time of transition, you can try to ignore the supreme idiocy of turning the journalistic use of their logo into a legal issue. After all, the 21st century is barely a decade old. With all of the technological pressures that increasingly make trade associations irrelevant, it’s not much of a surprise to see them flounder and make mistakes in judgment. After all, a drowning man grasps for anything that might float.

The people behind the current dot jobs mess are running out of room, however. It takes more than a little work to earn the scorn of ICANN. SHRM’s passive aggressive exploits serve to undermine its credibility as an industry representative while steadfastly trying to show the looters the way to the vault. SHRM’s partners in the debacle and their opponents are prime examples of the self-righteousness that polarizes while covering up greed with altruistic rhetoric.

You want to forgive the job board proprietors. The maturation of the industry took them by surprise. As they tried to navigate a minefield, they were routinely blind sided by a professional association that had fallen into bad company. In the end, they don’t look like much more than a group complaining about the way their wallet was pinched.

None of these things foster the sort of confidence that an industry needs to be successful.

Where SHRM should be setting the model for integrity, they have chosen to continue to take sides in the street brawl. Their best course of action would be to disassociate themselves from both sides and try to find higher ground. Continuing to be a participant in a gang rumble does the industry no good. Switching sides is even less palatable.

The perpetrators of the dot jobs fiasco persuaded a crowd of mid level HR Execs from big name companies to join the foolishness.This part of the saga is like the real Jack and the Beanstalk story. Jack sold the cow for three magic beans, they didn’t grow and the con man made off with the cow. Puffed up with unrealizable nonsense about the job boards, these HR heroes were led astray by their pied piper.

So, there you have it. There are no good sides in a polarized conflict where the professional association bails out on its responsibility to act in the best interests of the industry. The hucksters behind dot jobs were able to have them join and sustain the foolishness in spite of strong market feedback. The supposed victims of the process, small business people whose feel entitled to their franchise, are little better.

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