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SHRM 2012

It was quiet and still in the airport shuttle. The passengers leaving SHRM 2012 were all facing forward, no one speaking. As I sat crammed into the middle seat, I thought about how distinctly different this ride was from the one just a few days earlier.

When I arrived in Atlanta on Sunday, the airport, the shuttles and the hotel lobbies were abuzz with HR guys and gals, all anxious to get on with the Big Show. You couldn’t help but get caught up in the energy from the “You going to SHRM?” and the “Where ya from?” questions exchanged among the travelers.

Yet, here they were now, looking weary, worn and spent from the endless Starbucks lines, escalator squeezes and the crush of HR humanity over the past few days. And their feet hurt.

But riding in silence, I wondered if maybe this wasn’t just the glaze of exhaustion and information overload. Maybe they were deep in their thoughts, incubating plans and strategies for change, stimulated by the thoughts from the keynote addresses from Condoleezza Rice, Jim Collins and Malcolm Gladwell. They were ruminating on big ideas of their own:

  • Reworking their pitches to score that shiny new HCM solution that had them drooling in the Exhibition Hall
  • Replacing outdated service recognition practices with peer-to-peer social recognition platforms
  • Deploying programs for assessing and developing talent for promotional pipelines and leadership readiness
  • Strategizing a counterattack against the corporate lawyer’s refusal to unleash social media tools
  • Uniting the networks of the Millennials with the Baby Boomers’ hierarchy to achieve profound change

Tired, yes. But more so — inspired. With the parties and the pageantry of SHRM 2012 over, they were sitting quietly on that airport shuttle, dreaming of how they’ll keep their hopes alive to inspire and create positive change in their organizations back home.

And, of course, how they’ll continue to play the role of the adult in the room.