It’s been quiet around here – trips to Italy (holiday) and London (to speak) in the past few weeks have kept us busy and we’ve a few other bits and pieces going on keeping us occupied (like the small matter of hosting our first live event in a month!).
Yesterday I also attended* the inaugural event of a conference: Meaning: A conference for better 21st Century Business.
Perhaps not the most compelling of taglines but the line-up of speakers and the themes for exploration looked extremely interesting. Fortunately, the day did not disappoint…
- The speakers were excellent (had to miss the last few to ensure we missed the M25 rush hour) – and especially the women.
- The order of speakers also worked well – very different styles, vibes and approaches – which meshed well, offered a nice change of pace and kept the audience engaged and wanting to listen.
- The venue – the Corn Exchange in Brighton – was a lovely space, with not too much to-ing and fro-ing required.
Here, in the order presented, are my key takeaways & the ideas that most excited me from the speakers I saw…
…talked about the maelstrom of circumstances businesses are currently facing – and yes, location independence/working anywhere was one of them. Stowe shared that a study by Citrix showed businesses now plan 6-7 desks for every 10 employees.
‘Postnormal’ business, as Stowe called it, and he used a military acronym, VUCA to outline it even more clearly: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. We need to reinvent and rebuild a completely new way of doing and building business in a world where we can only see the present clearly once it’s become the past.
Caroline Lucas, the UK’s only Green Party MP
…argued that it is simply not sustainable for the goal of businesses to be economic growth, but that instead a ‘steady state economy’ with dynamic equilibrium is. A refreshing change to hear a politician talk about sustainability and a different approach to the economy.
David Hieatt, of the Do Lectures and Hiut Denim
…spoke of his realisation that he didn’t need to change the world, just his home town – and that to do this, his job first and foremost “is to have ideas”. The goal? To help 400 people in his home town of Cardigan get their jobs back, using their mastery (for producing top quality jeans).
One such idea: Giving each pair of jeans a History Tag – so that an owner can log and/or see the story of that pair of jeans. A project/venture/object doesn’t automatically have meaning or a story, you have to give it meaning/story. Plus, people like stories. Can you see why yours (your about page) is so important? ;)
Indy Johar, of 00:/ and Hub Westminster
…warned of the risk of confusing the current trend towards a ‘rental’ economy (think Zipcar etc.) with that of a true ‘sharing’ economy. They are not the same – just look at who holds the assets in each scenario.
Dr. Karen Pine of Do Something Different
…hit the nail on the head when she said that in order to make a change, you have to change behaviour first, not the thinking: “If you keep reusing the same behaviours that have got you to where you are, you’ll stay where you are”. And you don’t need to do big things, small things are the way to go…just do something different.
Alexander Kjerulf of Positive Sharing
…believes that looking after employees should be an organisation’s #1 priority (yes, before customers or investors) and that it has nothing to do with salaries, performance, perks etc. but that the two most important things about work are about results (making a difference) and the relationships we have there.
Pamela Warhurst of the Incredible Edible project in Todmorden
…believes that food can connect a community and provided a passionate example of how it does just that in Todmorden. With propaganda gardening (planting vegetable and herb gardens on disused land and encouraging people to pick it), creating a movement for everyone (“If you eat, you’re in!”), she showed just how tiny actions can make BIG differences. This was my favourite quote: “We don’t need to ask anyone’s permission to make the world a better place”.
I was sorry to miss hearing Vinay Gupta speak (I was introduced to him at lunch as “someone else who thinks about how to rebuild and what to do in the event of a zombie apocalypse!) but I like the snippets I’ve seen, in particular this quote: “Abundance breaks the financial system”.
I highly recommend checking out the speakers and their projects – you’ll get a heavy dose of inspiration, so be warned!
The organisers – Nixon McInnes are also well worth a look. You’ve probably heard of or follow some of those transparent bloggers who share their income and finances online, well Nixon McInnes run one of the most transparent, open and democratic businesses you’ll ever find – everyone knows each others’ salaries, everyone knows how well (or poorly) the business is doing financially, they measure their happiness on a daily basis (with tennis balls & buckets!) and they actively celebrate failures (with their Church of Fail).
* Thanks to my friends at 33 Digital for the Press ticket :)