If You Were Wondering What I Was Thinking

With everything that is currently taking place in the political arena. One thing went by the wayside which gives my stance on a topic where not only my position seems correct rather, is a text-book example that many should point to as absolute empirical evidence where one should not comply when one is ordered or required by some authority.

Next time one is asked to attend or take part in any HR (Human Resources) driven Leadership, Motivational, or other boondoggle by any other name. Just point to this latest government scandal and, with indignant self-determination in a loud voice state, “No! I will not go!”

Of course I’m talking about the now maligned conference meetings, and charges that just came public where the government once again seems to have spent lavishly on speakers, meetings, and so forth. However, I have a different take than most as you can tell by my opening lines.

Although part of the current outrage seems to be pointed where speakers fees are concerned. For me it’s not about the dollar figures. I looked at the roster with interest to see just who might have been asked to speak and at what price. (After all it is what I do so how could I not?) Here’s what I found and, what I took away from it.

In as far as speaker fees were concerned, they were not “high” by any means in actual dollars. In my estimation they are what you see in the so-called “market” for speakers. In actuality the highest fee paid to any of the speakers listed would probably only be enough to secure a date as a deposit for most noteworthy speakers on the circuit today. (Which means about 50% or half of what is expected)

However, the amounts are not what should be questioned. The amounts paid are a side-show. It’s the value question that should jump out when looking at it. What value did the attendees receive from seeing these presentations? From what I’ve seen rolling across the news shows my take is – not much – to nothing at all. Or, in other words – most likely a waste of money and resources. Not out of budget dollars. Rather, out of actual time wasted on senseless “motivational” theater.

When one goes to a meeting – any meeting. The last thing one wants to do is reach out and touch someone, sing in public, play acting theater on stage, do the stupid fall backwards trust thing, and a whole lot more. This type of nonsensical, lame brained, down right personally intrusive type of requests don’t belong in meetings, conferences, and more where real intellectual ideas or skills of exchange are to be taking place. Period.

Maybe if you’re discussing “love,” or “theater,” and such. (even then it still might not be appropriate) However, for the rest. please…spare me is all I can say.

As soon as I see or hear some speaker shout from the stage: “OK, now turn to the person next to you and…..” I cringe. People (I include myself here) have a disdain for this type of stuff. Personally, inside my head I will be screaming: “I didn’t come to have my personal space violated, be readied to act like a trained seal, or need to hug the person next to me who smells like they haven’t showered a week prior to attending this talk because this clown thinks I should. Where’s that exit again?” As soon as this type of clown show begins I, and most others – tune out/and turn off.

However, this is exactly what one gets when HR departments are put in charge of these types of meetings. HR is notorious for “group think” programs. And, if it was presented somewhere on the planet in some other company by their HR dept. Well then. It must be great! Which is exactly the reason you get what I like to call, “The New and Improved Seminar/Meeting of Left Brain, Right Brain Thinking For the Dumbest” Think I’m being too harsh?

Just think of the last HR implemented “employee” anything you’ve endured. “It’s company take your pet hamster to work for meet and greet this Wednesday!” Yep. It’s exactly this type of “group think” on steroids when it morphs into the conference arena.

To deliver actual ideas or skills from a stage that attendees can find useful and implement with immediacy is not only hard to do, it’s also twice as hard to find people who can actually do it. And the ones that can – charge for it. (Yes, I’m including myself here.)

HR departments are focused on prices paid as in some form of showing other departments how cheaply they paid for X than others. Which is exactly the wrong focus because, it’s not about the amount charged. It’s about the value they can create when the attendees can put to work those ideas in the real world and produce real measurable results. However most HR departments don’t see it that way.

They want production – not value. Which in turn produces exactly the results witnessed in the news. i.e., You have 2 speakers competing for some conference. One speaker can deliver measurable value to the buyer over and above their fee for a 1 hour talk. However, will only do 1 hour at their price.

The other speaker doesn’t talk of value rather, will stretch their canned 1 hour talk out to 4 hours. Will throw in a meet and greet, key chains, pens, and paper, a magic act, and a singing rendition of “Amazing Grace” all for the same price as speaker 1. Guess who’s getting the gig? (Some are now thinking…Hey, I attended that monstrosity!)

Again, think I’m being too harsh? Just look at the current issues facing these agencies now with the knowledge they just attended all these nifty conferences on Leadership, Motivation, Vision, and more. Money and time well spent?

Even if it was all free wouldn’t mean it still wasn’t a waste of both time and resources. Which is the real issue in my view.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr