The Meaning of Meaning

So, what’s the meaning of Meaning?

Free beer, abundant ideas, alternative solutions, changing the world of business in the 21st century  … and much more.

Will McInnes

Will McInnes

There was a real buzz of excitement and possibility at the second Meaning Conference in Brighton last week. The venue (Brighton Dome) is very special, and with its inspiring architecture and its declared purpose of inspiring creativity and fostering the arts, provided a fertile backdrop for the range of top class speakers expressing their ideas with passion and power. True evidence of Love at Work, which gladdens my heart as ever.

The Meaning Conference is produced by NixonMcInnes, who describe themselves as one of the most democratic businesses in the world – an award-winning strategic consultancy that’s spent the last decade helping organisations adapt to the demands of an emerging digital culture. As they say:

‘Our purpose for bringing people together for Meaning is simple: to change the world of business…so our goal is to inspire our audience with stories, to empower them with self-belief, to arm them with practicalities, to blow their mind with ideas’.

Bold statements, yet the energy and passion that drive the NixonMcInnes team, combined with the brilliant selection of speakers and the free-flowing themes, created an event that had the audience enthralled. This 2013 edition of the Meaning Conference was curated by Will McInnes, pictured above.

I arrived in time to hear Mikel Lezamiz from Mondragon speak about the way the co-operative system works for the Spanish company. Mondragon’s strapline is ‘Humanity at Work’, and the organisation certainly seems to embody principles and values that prize human beings and a system which delivers a caring, supportive environment. Mondragon has 83,000 employees and 9,000 students, with total assets in 2012 of 35,88bn Euros.

Mikel 500

Mikel Lezamiz, Mondragon’s Director of Co-operative Dissemination

Examples of Mondragon’s outstanding strategy of inter-cooperation includes a ratio of a maximum of 6:1 between the highest and lowest paid workers. This is an exceptionally close ratio; The Equality Trust in a report published in 2011 indicated that there was a 262:1 average top-to-bottom pay ratio in UK companies which disclosed data.

Mondragon, Lezamiz also informed  us,  have never fired anyone in the 57 years of their existence. Recently, all workers across the company took a 1% pay cut in order to preserve a manufacturing division which was not doing well. This is about to be closed down now, but the workers have all been given other jobs within the group, a fine example of the benefits of the co-operative system in action.

I sat beside Mikel in the audience, and was much impressed by his humility and quietly confident demeanor, which also shone through from the stage, where he held the audience’s attention as he showed us just how powerful this business model is in terms of sustainability, engagement and humanity at work.

There were a dozen great speakers at Meaning, and I’ll be detailing more over the next few days.

Look forward to reading about great talks from Umair Haque, Honor Harger, Dave Birch, James Watt, Dr Sue Black, Mary Alice Arthur and all the Nixon McInnes team – plus, when I catch up through video with the speakers I missed, Rick Falkvinge and Anne Marie Huby.

In the meantime, congratulations and many thanks to Louise Ash and the team for such a warm welcome and a successful conference, and if you are keen to attend next year – you can claim your Earlybird tickets HERE

Christine Miller

About Christine Miller

Christine is a psychologist, executive coach, mentor, speaker, published author and poet. With a varied and successful 25-year career in research and consulting across diverse sectors, she now conducts leadership and organisational transformations. As a guide and mentor she seeks to release untapped potential in her clients.

She has recently completed extensive research into creating sustainable cultures for more values-driven, loving, compassionate organisations, with over sixty global leaders, ranging from HH the Dalai Lama to Sir Terry Leahy and The Rt Hon Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business. Christine is a Fellow of London Metropolitan University Business School’s Centre for Progressive Leadership.

Christine is able to adapt to different environments and issues quickly, where she is known for her ethical approach, her empathy, her stimulating and thought-provoking method of questioning, and for her ability to put people at ease. She is renowned for her creative resourcefulness and wisdom, her penetrating analysis, insights and ability to provoke transformational thinking and action for organisations and individual coaching and consulting clients worldwide.

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