As a sports fan I spend more than my fair share of time watching the ESPN family of networks. Over the years as the number of different ESPN channels has grown, the variety of programming has expanded. The networks have experimented beyond traditional live event coverage and news/commentary shows to reality, investigative journalism, and even comedy.
One of my all time favorite 'non-traditional' ESPN shows is called 'Cheap Seats'. The basic premise of the show is for two commentators to screen video of old, second-rate sporting events that in the early days of ESPN helped to fill airtime (dog shows, putt-putt, arm wrestling, etc.), and provide witty and at times insulting commentary over the event. It is a really amusing show. For the non-sports geeks out there, it is a kind of poor man's Mystery Science Theater 3000 about sports.
A recurring feature on 'Cheap Seats' is a segment called 'Do You Care?', where the hosts take turns rattling off a series of little known facts or trivia items about the showcase sporting event, prefaced with the phrase 'Do You Care?'. 'Do You Care that 4-time national Putt-Putt champion Dave Carson once served as a bat boy for the Kansas City Royals?', is a decent example of a 'Do You Care' question.
The joke is that no, you really don't care, and that the factoid, like the event or person it references, is so obscure and unimportant, that no one else really cares either. The very idea that an entire show was built around mocking these kind of events is the joke itself.
What do 'Cheap Seats' or the associated Lumberjack/Strongman/Cheerleading and other obscure or niche competitions featured/mocked on the show have to do with HR Technology?
It seems in many Human Resources organizations the technology function (if it has not been ceded to the IT organization) gets relegated to the late night, off hours, or counter-programmed against the Super Bowl status like many of the events that Cheap Seats so cleverly derides. High profile and traditional functions like recruiting, training and development, and employee relations are the equivalent of ESPN's glamour properties like the NFL, Major League Baseball, and College Football. The technology function, can often be the organizational equivalent of PBA Bowling (way more popular that you'd think, by the way), table tennis, or an NFL films documentary about the legend of Hank Stram.
Even in the nascent HR/social media/blogosphere the interest in technology topics certainly lags behind 'traditional' subject matter like recruiting, career management, and general leadership. There are very few regular and steady HR blogs focusing primarily on technology topics. Heck, even this blog, 'Steve's HR Technology', is only occasionally about hard core technology subjects. Perhaps a re-branding is in order. Of the half dozen or so posts I have written for the popular Fistful of Talent blog, the one piece that was the most 'tech' focused received the least amount of feedback and interest than any of the other posts on FOT that I've done.
I write this post as I make my way to the 13th Annual HR Technology Conference in Chicago, an event that is clearly all about the technologies that are available to support HR and workforce processes, from the mundane and adminisitrative, to the evolved and highly complex and analytical. Dozens of experts. Hundreds of vendors. Thousands of attendees. Tens of thousands in bar tabs. Huge event. Great event. Important event.
But, after the show is all over, after the groggy conference goers make their way home, the question for 'regular' HR remains - HR Technology- Do You Care?
Check out one of the best moments from the 'Cheap Seats' series below - email subscribers click through: