Yesterday I went to one of the most inspiring conferences I’ve ever attended – Meaning 2012, put on by the fantastic Nixon McInnes in Brighton.
The conference’s tagline sounds fairly innocuous – “for better 21st-century business” – but, boy, did it deliver, with a wonderful range of speakers, who all had tremendous stories to tell, insights to give and messages to send out.
Power of small actions
From propaganda gardening, via jeans with their own personal history, to mutality together and a hexayurt, the cross-section of inspiring stories was a wonder to behold.
But if one message came through over again and again throughout the day, it was the power of small actions having a large and positive effect.
Karen Pine told the story of a man who was taking part in her Do Something Different programme and a simple, spontaneous 15-minute walk led to the most profound changes in his life (for the better).
Meanwhile, Indy Johar cited the example of Rutland Telecom, who started as a tiny group determined to improve one village’s web connections and now offer the fastest county-wide broadband in the country.
And as for Pam Warhurst’s rallying cry and her Incredible Edible project in Todmorden – well, you wouldn’t say ‘no’ to her, I can tell you.
More than subversion
At every turn, there were countless examples of people having a great idea and just going off and doing something about it. Forget bureaucracy or red tape – it’s all about trying to make an impact in relatively small ways.
But one thing was clear – this is not about subversion. The fact that this conference happened in ‘sandal-wearing, lentil-munching Brighton’ shouldn’t be seen as a reason to dismiss the topics debated as being ‘trendy and liberal’.
Meaning is all about about doing small things to try to take (back) control and put people and honesty at the heart of business.
As Alexander Kjerulf cited in his talk yesterday – the two most important things about work are meaningful results and the relationships we have at work and if we don’t value them, why do we bother in the first place?
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