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.
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.
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