One of the mainstays of the 'business' blog world is the occasional book review post. Bloggers get pitched by PR agencies or writers all the time to see if there is interest in reading and potentially reviewing the latest work on management, marketing, leadership - you name it. Other times bloggers provide their take on one of the popular business books of the day that have a subject matter in line with their blog's focus and target audience.
Some recent (and good) examples of this kind of review are Paul Hebert's look at 'Switch', or Kris Dunn's take on 'Linchpin'. Switch is all about influencing people to change, right in Paul's sweet spot, and Linchpin, with its focus on results and getting stuff done aligns well with some of the recurring themes of Kris' blog.
I don't write many book reviews on this site, since in the case of books like Switch or Linchpin I am either a bit late to the party, or don't really have much to add to or improve upon what people like Paul and Kris (and lots of others) have already covered. More so, in the case of the majority of books I read, they are not really in line with the realm of what this blog is (theoretically) about, technology and HR topics.
So when I picked up Kaya Oakes' 'Slanted and Enchanted : The Evolution of Indie Culture' a few weeks ago I did not intend on writing about it on the blog. I am actually not sure why I bought the book, maybe I was a bit tired of reading about how to convince people to do stuff they really do not want to do, or undergoing more admonitions of how to be fantastic and awesome by just being fantastic and awesome. Possibly it was the cool looking cover.
Either way, after completing the book I felt like posting about it. Not so much a 'review' but just some observations of the similarities between indie culture and what is going on in the HR space lately. The book is essentially about the history and evolution of so-called indie culture, that is creative works done outside the 'mainstream' of corporations and organizations and without much concern about the viability or financial rewards.
In the book's retelling of the origins, early heroes, development, and export of indie music, books, art, and design I saw some parallels in the creation, distribution, and eventual attempted absorption by big corporate interests of indie culture, and some of what is starting to happen in the HR and Talent world where this little blog (and hundreds of others) reside.
When I think about the growing influence of the HR and recruiting blogs, radio shows, and bootstrapped 'unofficial' Unconferences in the Human Resources community it seems to me not unlike some of the stories in Slanted and Enchanted. Death Cab for Cutie gets a major label deal and makes regular appearances on The OC, and HR bloggers now routinely get press credentials to 'mainstream' HR events, get asked to make speeches or sit on panels, and many major and entrenched organizations and associations are trying to figure out how to understand, embrace, and possibly even absorb elements of this growing 'indie' movement in HR.
I think it is fantastic the the 'Indie HR' community is getting more recognition, notice, and is gaining (subtly) in influence with the mainstream HR world. But here is the thing, as 'Indie HR' gains acceptance and gets more intertwined with 'traditional' HR is it in danger of losing what makes it so vibrant and meaningful? Will it get toned down, homogenized, or otherwise turned into just another extension of the status-quo?
Last thought, in 'Slanted and Enchanted' Kaya Oakes says this about what being 'indie' really means:
Independence means rebellion, risk, tenacity, innovation, and resistance to convention.
She was referring to art, music, and poetry. For those of us in 'Indie HR' we could be talking about interviewing, social networking, performance management - you get the picture.
As Indie HR goes more mainstream, can it still remain rebellious? Or will it resort to making VH1-friendly videos and counting the royalties?