Coining a New Term: “Repurposed Theory”

Many of you know that I truly hate it when people come up with new terms for the sake of coming up with new terms. I would rather just spend my time and energy doing things better instead of on fluffy stuff like talking about new ideas, that on the surface, appear new but are really just a repackaging of what has been around for a long time.

So we move to conferences. Yes, conferences. For the record, I do like conferences. I’m an extrovert and love to socialize, so what better way to leverage my interests in networking than at a conference where your network is attending, at the same time? From a learning perspective though, and personally speaking, conferences are really not the best places to learn how to do things better. Sure you can get inspired, generate new ideas, gain confidence in yourself as a professional, and so forth. At the end of the day, conferences are all about “repurposing theory”. Say what?

Repurposing Theory Defined… Sort Of…

I recently had a fantastic Facebook messenger conversation with one of my most respected network contacts and friends, Salima Nathoo. By the way, Salima just started a really cool gig as Global Learning Manager – Social, Collaborative & Pervasive Learning with Cigna. Cigna is one of the world’s largest investor-owned global health service companies with operations in 30 countries around the world. Perfect fit for her unique expertise in social learning? Absolutely… and am thrilled she is doing something that she loves.

Back to the Facebook conversation…

We were going back and forth on the upcoming SocialHRCamp Toronto on May 14th, as Salima suggested I check out a cool gadget called Catchbox — it’s basically a throwable microphone for audience engagement. Aside from the fact that this little thing costs $600 USD, it is kinda cool. Anyway, we ended up on the idea that people who speak at conferences, for the most part, are talking about repurposed ideas. On the surface, the session topics may appear to be something ground-breaking, but when you dig beneath the surface, it’s nothing more than a repackage of something that has been around for awhile. Secondly, conference sessions tend to be about theory. Theoretical concepts that usually get you thinking, which is never a bad thing, but you still are left asking, “how do I do it”?

Fast forward many messages later, and the concept of “Repurposed Theory” was born. Now, I haven’t gone to Google to see if this term exists yet, but my gut tells me it’s already been used. But it doesn’t matter. The point is we talk all the time about innovation, pushing boundaries, fighting the status quo, bashing mediocrity to the ground, scaling through technology and so forth. But are we really doing anything beyond just talking about things? How can we push the needle forward if we don’t talk about how to do any of this stuff? How can we push the needle forward if all we do is coin new terms, instead of just trying to do things better? Aren’t we wasting our time and energy by focusing on avoiding the real issues head-on?

Call me crazy, negative or pessimistic, but that’s not my intent. I started SocialHRCamp 4 years ago because nobody in the HR industry was doing anything to push the needle forward to action. Nobody was focusing on the “how to”. Ask yourself this question. Of all the speakers you hear at conferences, what percentage of them have executed?

So for the first time in my 37 years of being on this planet, I have coined a new term. Actually, it was a collaborative effort with Salima. We tend to do this a lot — but I have never publicly mentioned them. The lesson in all of this babble is this. Keep going to conferences because they are important, but make sure you attend the sessions that are focused on pushing the needle forward versus learning a new concept that is nothing more than repurposed theory.

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