I was notified that I made a list of the Top 25 Digital Influencers in HR.
Yup, everyone has a niche on the internet.
I was asked to tell you about my inclusion on the list, and really, I don’t mind. It’s always an honor to be included — I guess. Maybe. Sorta. I write a blog called Punk Rock HR and I believe that lists, much like teamwork, are for suckers.
You may wonder how can I eviscerate a list and talk about it at the same time. I wonder about that, too. Let’s talk about that tension & conflict.
When I think of lists, especially those like Best Companies and the Working Mother 100 Best Companies, I am reminded of inherent flaws in selection & inclusion methodologies. Some argue that numbers don’t lie — but anyone who deconstructs narrative as a hobby knows that numbers are just another way to communicate in the world. Numbers don’t lie but people do.
I am also reminded that you can make all the lists you want, but one bad tweet about a poorly delivered product, service, or performance review will influence the population just as much as your inclusion on the Top 50 Gen Y Companies or the Glassdoor Top 50 Best Places to Work.
Here’s something else to think about when considering the validity of a list. Smaller and more amazing companies, people, and industry organizations don’t have marketing departments and PR firms who can dedicate the time & effort it takes to apply for inclusion on these lists. In fact, I just received this note from Winning Workplaces that demonstrates my point.
Winning Workplaces is happy to announce that applicants for our 2010 Top Small Company Workplaces competition with Inc. Magazine have more time to complete our official online application. The deadline to apply has been extended to January 22, 2010. Applications for 2010 are now being accepted at tsw.winningworkplaces.org We encourage you to share this with your readers so they may apply.
Scrappy, entrepreneurial people who are running a business and making money don’t have time to futz around with lists. Thoughtful people who are influencing in this world aren’t lobbying to make list-makers aware of their efforts. They’re just doing great work.
So if I’m making broad generalizations, which I’m prone to do, I’m pretty sure that most lists are bullshit. The whole concept of a list reminds me of old media — narcissistic, chummy, and not very reliable.
Except here’s where it gets sticky. I always read lists because they tell a story.
- I’m curious about who is on the list and why. You can talk about algorithms, data, and point-factor comparisons. Don’t lie to me with your math. The human element always comes into play.
- I am always curious as to who is left off the list, too. Some trade groups and associations will make you pay a fee to be considered for inclusion on a list. Beauty magazines make you purchase a place on a list as a form of advertising. If your company (or your blog) isn’t on a list, why is that? What does that say about the list’s authenticity?
- Lists tell the story of the person who made the list. I wonder about the personal biases and blind-spots of the author. As much as we may claim to be impartial, we’re not. Many of us are misinformed about organizations, people, geographies, etc. We get shit wrong and our lists will reflect those errors and inaccuracies.
- Am I flattered and thankful? Yes.
- Do I mind giving a free shout-out to a newly launched website, which is probably why I’m included on most lists in the first place? No. I don’t mind at all.
- Do I want you to read the list and suggest a few other influential sites that aren’t included? Totally.
I also want to know what you think about lists. Useful? Relevant? Important? Ridiculous? Let me know what’s on your mind. After all, you are important just by the sheer fact that you come to the #13 most digitally influential blog. In HR. That you’ve heard about.