Event: Meaning 2014 for better 21st century business

Lee Bryant

We just launched Meaning 2014, the NixonMcInnes conference for better 21st century business on 18 Nov 2014 in Brighton. I’m really excited to be curating the event this year and I have a particular emphasis on building businesses that leave people meaningfully better off. The speaker line-up is shaping up really well, and we’re also making more time on the day for conversation and participation.

Check out the announcement or the event website for more details. There are a limited number of earlybird tickets available if you book now. Hope to see you there.

My first year back in the UK. Here’s what happened.

A year ago I returned from 16 months travelling around the world. Here’s what’s happened since:

  • I was only in the UK for two weeks, then jumped back on a plane across the Atlantic. I spent an inspiring week at the first ever International Summit of Cooperatives in Quebec City learning about the state we’re in and the call for a new economy. I also had a small disagreement with Peter Marks, then the CEO of The Cooperative Group.
  • From Quebec I headed down to the US to spend two weeks with the WorldBlu team, exploring freedom centred leadership at BluCamp.
  • Inspired by the coops summit, I came back home and set up The Brightoneers in order to build a community around a better vision for the local economy. The launch meet-up almost got out of hand with 150 people registered, and the group now has over 300 members with over 20 meet-ups held. It’s been fun, but now needs much more focus and a specific goal. Still thinking about that.
  • Through The Brightoneers I got in touch with Dan Webb of Good Money. We’ve been talking on and off about creating complementary currencies to work around some of the problems with our broken money systems. Hoping we’re going to make something interesting happen in this area before long.
  • I spent a few months working as a WorldBlu Ambassador, helping to build the movement of democratic workplaces. I focussed most of my attention here in Brighton and the city now has one of the greatest densities of WorldBlu-certified democratic workplaces in the world. Nice.
  • I learnt about mindfulness and started practicing meditation. This is potentially life-changing but also highlighted just how much of a day-dreamer I am and how I struggle to hold my attention on anything. Still a lot to learn and improve.
  • I joined the awesome new consultancy colab as a non-exec director. The founder, John Shewell is one of the most purpose-driven people I know. He’s on a mission to transform public policy and enable communities to drive the changes they need to increase wellbeing for all. We also have a hell of a great laugh working together.
  • My travel-weary body has been slowly getting back to a respectable level of fitness. Got back into running, triathlon, mountain biking, road cycling and took up Crossfit. Seem to be having an annoying number of little niggly injuries though which is annoying.
  • Since May, I’ve been working with Wired Sussex getting a bunch of activities started to provide learning and support for creative & digital entrepreneurs. We just finished a wonderful pilot project, The FuseBox Amp, which the inspiring participants enjoyed a lot. This made me very happy! It was certainly one of the most interesting projects I’ve ever worked on.
  • I started working a lot with Charlie Davies. A fool and a genius, Charlie has taught me so much about developing Very Clear Ideas, the true essence and nature of money and about how the purpose of a company comes from its founder. He’s become a great friend too.
  • My sister Tess had a baby and I become an uncle to a beautiful baby boy. Yay!
  • I’ve had some other lovely trips – mountain biking in Afan, Wales; snowboarding in Austria; and a wedding in up-state New York which was absolute carnage.
  • The irresistible lure of NixonMcInnes, the company I founded and left in 2011, has proved strong and I’ve been hanging out there a lot recently. I think founders always have a special relationship with an initiative and it’s a great place to be exploring exciting new ideas. More about this soon.

All in all, a pretty amazing year. I wonder what the next 12 months have in store.

6 inspiring business audio books

A friend who’s not into reading asked me recently if I could recommend some great business audiobooks. Here’s a little list of some books I’ve enjoyed over the last year or two which are available as audio. Some famous ones and a few you might not have come across before. They’re all available as normal books too. Enjoy.

  1. Peak by Chip Conley. Really fun and inspiring book about creating amazing experiences for customers, employees and investors – this got me really buzzing with ideas for my own company: My review.
  2. The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin. How everyone is an artist, and can lift off their lid and be true to themselves.
  3. I Have a Dream by Rashmi Bansel. Brilliant stories about creating businesses that deliver real social good.
  4. The Go-giver by Bob Burg & John David Mann. Lovely little story about the power of giving as a way to success and happiness.
  5. Betterness by Umair Haque. Brilliant short book about the purpose of business. My review.
  6. Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh. The inspiring story of Zappos – building a business based on happiness.

How a dictatorship over corporate purpose sets everyone free

Peter Koenig‘s work on the Role of Source has been the most powerful business idea I’ve come across in a long time. We’re using it at NixonMcInnes right now to unlock the company’s purpose, as well as with start-ups at The FuseBox. It’s unbelievably useful and liberating so we need to get this idea further out into the world. I worked with Peter Koenig and Charlie Davies (who helped Peter develop it) on an award entry for this work. Please check it out and let me know what you think. If you find it useful, please click the ‘like’ button towards the right-hand side of the page, next to the headline.

Radically different help and support for creative business projects

This week we announced The FuseBox Amp. We’re searching for six of the most promising and ambitious people who are in the process of starting innovative creative or digital business projects, and providing them with four weeks of radically different learning and support unlike anything Brighton has seen before.

We are looking for people who have started creative business projects that are still at an early stage and have a need for support. Their project might be:

  • a start-up,
  • a new product or service in an existing business,
  • a project to pivot a business from one business model to another.

We don’t care about their background or how much experience they have. We are interested in the person they are today, and the impact they want to make in the future.

Do you know anyone working on an early stage creative/digital business project who might be interested in applying? If so, please do forward this on and encourage them to apply.

You can drop me a line if you have any questions.

A short poem I wrote today at The Wild School

This week Charlie started The Wild School. It is awesome. Everything is free this week and there’s still time to come along to something tomorrow. Just go, trust me, it will be worth it. I’m also teaching a class on Monday. I can’t promise that one will be worth it.

So I turned up this morning not know what was going to be taught and ended up in a creative writing workshop, run by the brilliant Roshnii Rose. Roshnii guided us through a process of stream of consciousness writing starting from two words: “Wild is”. We then picked out passages from our writing that stood out to us and used them to create a poem using the Pantoum method. If you’re like me and don’t consider creative writing to be your thing, it’s quite an incredible experience to have a poem ‘extracted’ from your brain like this. Here’s what I came up with:

Just animals on a planet

Just animals on a planet, we are actually naked

We hide and are scared

Concrete, restrictions and rules

We may die unfulfilled

 

We hide and are scared

We think there’s time later for the things that matter

We may die unfulfilled

We are all wild

 

We think there’s time later for the things that matter

Explore every day

We are all wild

We must use our unimaginable gift

 

Explore every day

Concrete, restrictions and rules

We must use our unimaginable gift

Just animals on a planet, we are actually naked

Organisational democracy is a stepping stone, not the final answer

Since I first became a fan of organisational democracy, I’ve often wondered what’s next. Will we will find an even better model for how humans can work together? The best answer I have found so far lies in a theory called Spiral Dynamics.

Spiral Dynamics explains how our values and worldview as humans have become increasingly complex – like an unravelling spiral – as life conditions for us have also become more complex. The journey has taken us through survivalismtribalism, superstition and magicego-centrism, feudalism and heroismpurposefulness and authoritarianismstrategic, industrial and materialismhumanism and egalitarianism. Phew, that’s a lot of isms.

Here’s a good slideshare which explains the model, and I also recommend this 43-page ebook on the subject. If you’re brave, you can read the Spiral Dynamics book. It’s awesome but awfully written and took me forever to get through.

What particularly interests me about Spiral Dynamics is that it puts the changes we see happening in the world into the broader context of the ongoing evolution of human consciousness. In developed nations today there is a gradual shift away from the currently dominant industrial, materialistic, individualistic worldview towards a more egalitarian, socially-minded perspective. This is being driven by our life conditions stretching the limits of an industrial perspective:

  • natural resources are finite and so the global economy cannot grow infinitely, especially as developing economies try to enter the consumer party
  • a growing gap between the richest and poorest causing social problems that affect everyone
  • climate change caused by industrialism which has to stop in order to prevent major catastrophe
  • material gain only makes us happier up to a point and there’s more to life than working really hard and acquiring more ‘stuff.’

But the move to a more humanistic perspective where organisational democracy fits in is not the final solution. It’s actually just a stepping stone towards further, more complex levels of consciousness.

What comes next is an integral worldview where we understand all of the levels of consciousness that we have already developed and maximise their positive potential whilst repairing and avoiding the problems that they can cause. It’s a mindset that embraces and understands complexity and lives life to the full.

There are movements emerging that embrace this post-democratic mindset like Conscious Capitalism and Integral Capitalism. This stuff is new and nobody has completely cracked the formula yet, but that’s actually the point. There is no final solution. As life becomes more complex on our planet, our consciousness will continue to evolve new levels of complexity with it, bringing ideas which can greatly enrich life and solve the dizzying problems we face.