Tag Archives: conference

A Review of Summer Brandcamp

Wow!

Last week I flew to Dallas to attend my first Summer Brandcamp. I had an incredible time, and having reflected on my trip, here are a few things that resonated for me.

Being looked after and looking after others – this was a strong experience for me throughout the whole event.

On arrival at Dallas Fort Worth airport on Monday I was met by David, who drove me from the airport to my hotel. David is a friendly guy and we talked about sports and the weather as he drove safely to the hotel. I arrived feeling very well looked after.

As part of my contribution to the event, I ran an Art and Soul of Better Work session. The people who organise Summer Brandcamp did a fantastic job of sourcing all the materials we needed to explore work through an artistic lens, and the tech team checked and tested everything, leaving me with the time I needed to percolate nervous energy into excitement and facilitate the session. I arrived at the end of the session feeling well looked after, and feeling like I’d been able to look after the participants well too. If you are interested, there is a lovely review of the session here, written by Liz D’Aloia, and here are a few pictures I used to help illustrate the session.

Doing good, feeling good

One morning over 100 conference guests got up early for a Mexican breakfast before being bussed out to the Salvation Army in Garland, a city to the north east of Dallas, to spend a few hours helping out. We gave a playground a makeover, did some drainage work, made 1,200 sandwich lunches to be handed out, painted door frames, and more. It was a hot, sunny morning and people made sure we had plenty of cold water to drink, and sunscreen to put on. We did a good job, we were well looked after and the work we did will help the people at the Salvation Army look after others. As well as being a fantastic service project – this was a great way to get to know other people at the conference.

Summer BrandCamp Service project team

 

Photo by Jonathan Brewer

Conference Observations

There was a great mix of speakers – and hallelujah, plenty of women speaking too. I’m really bored of the prevalence of white, older men like me taking the stage at conferences, the line up here made for a powerful, lovely change – more please.

Sessions were short. This meant there were lots of opportunities to learn from different people, and it gave the event a good pace. People and purpose were two powerful, recurring themes.

The conference organisers made donations to No Kid Hungry in the name of each speaker, another lovely idea which helped reinforce a sense of togetherness, and a reminder that this is not just another ‘same old same old’ event. There was also a silent auction to help raise money for the charity – and over the course of the event I know that over $30,000 was raised. A kind soul even bought some of my artwork. #IAmAnArtist

There was a great sense of fun brought on by lots of people excited to see each other, and a genuine effort to make first timers like me feel really welcome.

Changers of Commerce

This was a morning of stories told by businesses and not for profit organisations making a difference, in their local communities and beyond. An inspiring extra session laid on the mornign after the close of the main event. Around 100 people came along to this, and we heard some great, sometimes funny, sometimes moving, examples of people doing good.

Wow!

I began with wow – I’m ending with it too. The whole Summer BrandCamp experience has made a powerful mark on me. I caught up with old friends, made some lovely new friends too. It was a fantastic experience I hope to repeat. Here’s a short, 15 second slideshow of my trip. Wow!

#SBrandcamp 2015 with @tdn2k @dwanelay @rock_hall #flipagram made with @flipagram

A post shared by Doug Shaw (@dougshaw) on

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

IMG_3118

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?