Tag Archives: conference

What Does Meaning Mean to You?

I was at Meaning 2014 in Brighton yesterday, along with around 299 other curious folk. This was my second time at the conference, I enjoyed my previous visit and had booked for this year immediately after the 2013 conference finished, something I’ve never done before. I couldn’t stay for the whole day this time, and at one point I’d been dithering over whether or not to attend. I’m glad I stopped dithering, here’s why.

On my way to the event I bumped into Andy Swann and his friend Ed. Turns out I’d been walking in completely the wrong direction so as we corrected my approach, we enjoyed a brief conversation on life, the universe and everything. On arrival – I went straight to the badge stand. Last week the conference organisers tweeted requests for badge slogans and I had responded with a couple of ideas…thanks for listening 🙂

Meaning Conference BadgesAs people milled around chatting and having coffee I was fortunate to share a few minutes with Neil Mullarkey. Among other things, Neil co-founded The Comedy Store Players so the art of improvisation is something he has lots of experience in. I was fortunate to experiment with improv with Joe Gerstandt and an enthusiastic crowd in Illinois recently, and I am keen to learn more.

A friend had recommended Neil to me so having the opportunity to meet and talk with him was lovely. A key element of improv is accepting the offer of someone’s words, and building on them, something referred to as ‘yes, and’. As we parted, I offered Neil my ‘I don’t have to be perfect’ badge from last year’s event, he kindly accepted. I then enjoyed a few brief conversations with friends, before Kev Wyke and I joined the throng filing into the theatre for the start.

Meaning Conference currently revolves around short ish talks – around 20-25 minutes a piece. A good format, as you are either left wanting more, or you know you’ve not got long to wait until something else comes along. After warm introductions from Tom Nixon, who came on stage to the most dramatic opening music I’ve ever heard, we were off. 

First up was Mark Stevenson who promised us ‘the future in 20 minutes’. He was fast and funny, and as well as humour and speed he told tales of DNA sequencing and how that is now being used experimentally for cancer reduction. Mark suggested that technology falls into three categories. The stuff that existed before you were born, sewers, textiles, cars – you take this stuff for granted. Then there’s the stuff that appears before you reach the age of 35. This stuff is exciting and useful and you get to grips with it. Lastly, there’s everything that appears affect you are 35, and all this stuff just serves to make you grumpy. He told of solar power becoming rapidly affordable – and the tension between green energy, the utility companies and government. He spoke of 3D printers printing 3D printers and much more besides. Through the lens of the classroom he showed us how little some things have changed, and argued that we are educating people to be fit for the past, not the future. This was a barnstorming opening session which for me, almost went too fast. I hung on – just.

Ben Dyson was up next, to talk about Positive Money. Positive Money is:

‘a movement for a money and banking system that works for society and not against it. We’re campaigning for the power to create money to be used in the public interest, in a democratic, transparent and accountable way, rather than by the same banks that caused the financial crisis.’

I’ve been following the campaign for a while now and whilst I am not in any way an economics expert, I do know a little about fairness and I think what Ben and his team are progressing is important for us all. Ben shared with us that economics as it is currently taught is underpinned by rational choices – and we all know we don’t always make those. Only 3% of all money is cash, the rest is simply electronic exchanges, it isn’t real. Banks create this money out of loans and they are incentivised to do so. Here are a few more of the startling stats that Ben shared.

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For the first time in 170 years Parliament is holding a debate about money creation. On Thursday 20th November a backbench debate hosted by Steve Baker (Con), Michael Meacher (Lab), Caroline Lucas (Green), Douglas Carswell (UKIP) and David Davis (Con) is going to take place. If you are based in the UK and are reading this, and you think a fairer, more transparent money system matters, please drop your MP a line and encourage them to take part in this debate.

We then heard from Stefania Druga. Stefania is the founder of HacKIDemia, an international organisation that supports learning by doing and playing. She was here to tell us a little about a fascinating project called AfriMakers. AfriMakers ‘enable makers in Africa to develop sustainable projects and use making to solve local challenges and create an exchange of best practices between locals.’ Here are a few lines Stefania spoke which resonated powerfully for me:

Afrimakers – necessity = creativity and improvisation
Making stuff – in Africa it’s a necessity
Connect through values – everything else works
15 stones in the room – Zen Buddhism you can’t see all 15 – they are there you can’t see it all so question stuff
Change = Time*(work/people) Equation – time is the key – give it to people.
Let’s play together – recognise difference don’t impose yourself on others
Our desire to help is not always helping

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I enjoyed good conversations in the breaks and over lunch, and then I had to depart, so I didn’t see the rest of the day unfold in real life. Looking at Twitter, it seemed to unfold in all manner of interesting ways. An enjoyable event – well done to everyone who helped make it happen.

One last thing for now – I am curious, what does meaning mean to you? I invited people to respond to this question and I added their thoughts and ideas to a rough sketch note. The note grew through my time at the conference and on the train home. Here’s where this cocreated thinking got to, and if you’d like to add something about what meaning means to you in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.

What does meaning mean to you

PS – I bought my ticket for the 2015 event last night 😉

 

On the Fringe – In Manchester

This year the CIPD conference is back in Manchester on November 5th and 6th. Over the past few years I’ve enjoyed helping out at this event, and I’m really pleased to be going back again in 2014. In previous years I’ve done a lot of blogging, given talks on social leadership, culture and HR, and last year I had a lot of fun curating content for the CIPD on their tumblr channel. Things need to move on, things need to change, and so 2014 is going to be a little different for me. In addition to meeting lots of lovely people and learning something new, I’ll be playing a bit closer to the fringe this year, most of the time with my friend Meg Peppin.

Reflect and Connect

Reflect and Connect

Meg and I have been asked to facilitate some open space conversation around what people are learning and how they might apply that learning in their work. Reflect and Connect takes place on the CIPD stand between 1pm and 1.30pm Wednesday and Thursday. These sessions are open to all, and we particularly hope that people attending the event on their own will take part and meet new people. No ticket required for this one – just turn up, meet people and share something interesting.

The Art of Conversation

Everyone in HR appreciates the power of a good conversation. Join us for a drink and a chat, and play with some simple ideas to explore the art of good conversation. Come and reflect on the conference and exhibition so far, and connect with other professionals in a social setting. This is an early evening get together at Epernay between 18:45 and 20:00. It’s free to attend, please grab your ticket here so we know how many people to expect.

HR Unscrambled

HR Unscrambled is back for it’s second year. What is it? A mini unconference, where you help set the agenda, and then talk about how to make work better with your fellow HR professionals. Last time out – we spoke about connecting, sharing and learning, and the future for the profession. HR Unscrambled is on Thursday morning between 08:00 and 09:15, it is free to attend and you will need a ticket, available here.

If you are going to the conference this year – it would be lovely to see you at some of these sessions. In addition to all this, I’m particularly looking forward to hearing from Rita McGrath as she asks, ‘Are We All Entrepreneurs now?’ and explores how small changes mean so much for business agility. Small is the new significant – a favourite subject of mine. What are you looking forward to?

HR Tech Europe 2014 – London Spring Warm Up

You might not have me down as an HR Tech aficionado, and to some extent you’d be right. I’m much more interested in the human, less so in the resource – and the tech is…well it’s just tech, isn’t it? What I think tech should be, is an enabler for HR people to do the human bit to the very best of their abilities. Tech should be an enabler – instant access to information about an employee so that HR and the line manager can work with and develop that person, in a way that is good for the business and the person. Is that how HR Tech works? I don’t know, and I’m keen to find out.

So, on March 27th I’ll be off to the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre to catch up with the latest news and ideas from the world of HR Tech. There are two perspectives in particular I want to hear about.

First up – I’m keen to hear from Adrian Furnham on this:

HR Technology – Quantifying The Appetite For Social & Technological Change Inside Your Organisation

During his presentation Adrian Furnham will go beyond discussing the well worn how and why of change. He will look at approaches to monitoring, quantifying and managing the appetite for change inside your organisation, and offer insights on how to effect attitudinal change in people and organisations. 

I’m keen to hear from Adrian because beyond crystal clear and timely communication, and a chance to be involved on the cocreation of change, I’m not clear enough about how you manage the appetite for it. As for insight on how to affect change, I’m always keen to learn more about that.

I’m also really interested in hearing Neil Lewis from Nationwide, talk about this:

Implementing an HR Systems Transformation to Underpin a People & HRSS Strategy

An HR System Transformation Programme which will deliver an enhanced capability for HR and the business, and support the Group People Strategy. It will modernise and enhance the HR service offering for employees and line managers, whilst also enabling HR to function with greater efficiency and effectiveness. The Programme will provide Nationwide with a HR IT platform capable to meet current and future requirements.

At first I confess I thought a HRSS was something you got driven to your funeral in, but it turns out I was wrong, it is in fact Human Resource Support Services. My error notwithstanding – the reason I am interested in this talk is simply that I am a customer of Nationwide. Me and my family trust this company with some of our hard earned cash, so I am keen to learn about what they are doing to enhance the employee experience, as I believe this has a direct bearing on the customer experience.

There’s loads of other stuff going on through the day too. The full line up is here, and if you are around on the day – I hope to see you there. If you can’t make it – take a look at what’s on and if you’ve any burning questions and thoughts, drop me a comment and I will do my best to get you an answer or cover your point for you at or after the event.