The Movie Ted? It’s a Wake-Up Call for HR to Start Fulfilling Its Potential

Editor’s Note: With the Academy Awards drawing near, TLNT again asked some prominent thought leaders to write about their favorite movie from this past year with a HR or talent management theme. We’ll feature one each day leading up to the Oscars ceremony on Feb. 24.

If wishing made it so…

The movie Ted sucks. Not because it wasn’t funny. It was, in parts.

No, Ted sucks because we must evaluate it against its potential. Seth MacFarlane + R rating = holy crap. This is going to be wheels-off funny.

It wasn’t. The best parts of the film are all in the trailer. Damn, I hate it when Hollywood screws me over like that.

HR needs to put a cork in all the wishing

The main character in Ted wishes for a buddy. The buddy comes in the form of a plush, talking teddy bear aptly named Ted.

In HR, we are a wishful clan. We wish employees would stop doing stupid stuff. We wish our managers respected us. We wish our executives gave a damn about the most important asset — the people.

We wish we had a real profession that got more respect. We wish we weren’t all that soft. We wish people would care more about the stuff we care about … like (insert your own thought) culture, recognition, retention, diversity, etc., etc., etc.

We wish people took our certifications seriously. We wish SHRM were (insert your description) stronger, better, bigger, more strategic, more tactical, etc., etc., etc.

We wish. We wish. We wish.

Here’s the truth: stop all the wishing! Stop dreaming, stop screwing around with your time.

Wishing doesn’t make it so. Never has, never will.

Squandering potential

You want respect? Earn it. You want a different reality? Go out and create it.

Mark Wahlberg stars in the movie "Ted."
Mark Wahlberg stars in the movie “Ted.”

Stop. Wishing. Now.

What hurts both this boring movie Ted and HR is that we both have potential … yet we find creative ways to squander it. We fumble on the one yard line. We have the potential to score, but alas, we don’t.

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Potential — that’s a loaded word. When you’re young and people say that you have potential, it’s awesome. When you hit middle age and people say the P word, it’s a slap in the face. They’re secretly kicking your ass with that word.

Ted had the potential of being one of the funniest movies ever, like Blazing Saddles funny. They had the right guy in Seth MacFarlane, and the right format, but something watered this down.

They should be sitting at OUR table

Who did it? Hollywood? The word police? Seth himself? Jackass producers? I have no idea.

Truthfully, we’ll probably never know. The potential was there. The ingredients were there. And they found a way to fumble on the one yard line.

In HR, however, our movie isn’t done yet. We can choose to put away the childish crutch of wishing, or we can force change — in ourselves, in others, etc.

The organization is ours. We’re really the most important function in the whole damn organization. Everything else — finance, sales, IT, marketing, operations, etc. — they are ALL secondary to HR.

They should be sitting at OUR table … or wishing they could.

That is our potential — believing that, doing that.

But jeez, for the love of Christ, stop all the damn wishing!

William Tincup, SPHR, is the CEO of HR consultancy Tincup & Co. He is one of the country’s leading thinkers on social media application for human resources, an expert on adoption of HR technology, and a damn fine marketer. William has been blogging about HR related issues since 2007 and is a contributor to Fistful of Talent, HRTechEurope and HRExaminer. He also co-hosts a daily HR podcast called DriveThruHR. You can follow him on Twitter, or contact him directly at


6 Comments on “The Movie Ted? It’s a Wake-Up Call for HR to Start Fulfilling Its Potential

  1. The message is loud and clear, and i totally agree with you .. only the comparison with TED movie, I mean it could have applied to tons of movies that look great in commercial, yet fail ..

  2. OMG the bell has been ringing for years. How loud does it have to ring for HR to get it. Time to get real professionals in the job. It is getting old!!

  3. Here’s the thing…I agree with your statements about HR needing to stop wishing and just do it. But I LOVE Flah Gordon, so “Ted” made me laugh. A lot.

  4. WOW – You nailed this. I only recently saw TED and couldn’t figure out why I was so disappointed. As you pointed out, it was because I expected it to be hilarious (a talking Teddy Bear, Seth MacFarlane, Marky Mark… and the trailer). And that is where we too often fail in our professional lives… we either come with expectations of others, or we live with what others expect of us.

  5. Maybe Seth is not that funny. Maybe HR really does not have all that much potential to drive change. Maybe the most valuable asset is not people, but ideas and cultural / social capital built up around the goods and services that people provide. They say laughter is the sound of surprise: maybe TED was not surprising and maybe its no surprise that HR does not have anything in its trick bag at the moment…

  6. So…because we WISHED for the movie to be funny, it is OUR failure that it ended up being crap? Not Seth Macfarlane’s?

    What an interesting contortion of logic

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