E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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Meaning Conference Highlights – A Collaborative Future #lawwe

La Palma - Roque de los MuchachosNot long ago I mentioned over here in this blog how one of the many reasons why I went through that extended blogging hiatus towards the end of 2012 was due to a rather intense business travelling schedule that took me on a tour of several different European countries to participate, as a speaker, on various conference events, customer meetings, enablement workshops and so forth. Intense is probably the right word to describe what it was like, but another one that I can think about would be memorable. I do have, indeed, plenty of fond memories about the vast majority of those events, but if there is one that has got a special place in my heart is that one event that kicked off last year and which raised the stakes incredibly high on its first edition to the point where it will always be in my thoughts not only because of the tremendously energising vibe it had all around it, throughout, but mainly because of the amazing experience of attending, speaking and participating in an event like no other in search for something that I am starting to feel we need nowadays more than ever: Meaning. 

Of course, I am talking about the Meaning 2012 conference event that took place in Brighton, UK, on October 1st and that three months later I am still remembering it as it were just yesterday. What an amazing event! Not only was the quality of the agenda and speakers top notch (I had the privilege of being one of them giving me a unique opportunity to continue learning from the greatest and the most unexpected), but the atmosphere around it was just electrifying and incredibly energising. The amount of hard work and the dedication to make things right, the incredibly warm sense of hospitality we enjoyed while in there, and the humanity shown throughout the entire event by folks, now really good friends, like Will McInnes and Lou Ash, along with the rest of the NixonMcIness team!, was absolutely a pure delight. Something other conference events should mimic and learn from a great deal! And all of that on their first edition! 

There have been several different blog posts, articles, references, highlights shared across by a good number of folks who attended the event, which have made it quite a rewarding experience going through as I am writing down this blog entry, remembering the wonderful event that we got exposed to over the course of a single day and, most importantly, the sharing of some of the most brilliant ideas we got to exchange and share openly not just from the speakers themselves, but also from people attending the event live with all of the networking that went on and on and on. A delightful experience all around! 

That’s why I couldn’t help resisting the urge to create this blog post where I could point folks to the recordings of the various different speakers, which you can find them all right over here, so that you could have a look and go through each and everyone of them. At your own pace, whenever you would want to. They are all worth it. Big time.

As usual, and like I have been doing over the last few months, I did a bunch of live tweeting from the event itself as well, and I then captured all of those annotations into a .PDF file that I uploaded into my Slideshare account for folks who may be interested in reading further what it was like experiencing the conference live. The direct link to it can be found over here. And here’s the embedded code in case you may want to flip through the pages as we speak: 

I had the privilege as well of being the last speaker of the day, wrapping up what was quite an amazing day that would be rather tough to forget in a long long time. Of course, I talked about one of my favourite topics from over the last 5 years: Living “A World Without eMail“. This time around expanding further on the notion of what a collaborative future may well look like and hold up for us with the emergence of social software tools in the corporate world. I got to talk about plenty of what I have been learning in the last 5 years after I started that movement, back in February 2008, which reminds me that we are getting close to that 5th year anniversary, where I have got a couple of lovely surprises packed up that I am sure folks who have been following this initiative all along would find rather interesting and surprising. But more on that later on…

For now, I thought, as a teaser, as perhaps an interim update from my last blog article on the subject (Yes, I know! I am long overdue an update on how things have been moving along, aren’t I? Well, coming up shortly!), I would go ahead and share the link to the recording over here, so that those folks who may be interested in the topic (It lasts for a little bit over 17 minutes), can have a look into it and watch at your own pace. I’m sure it will evoke a good number of questions and additional insights that I am more than happy to entertain and facilitate on the comments section below, so feel free to chime in as you may see fit, and stay tuned for that upcoming update on the progress report of what it has been like living “A World Without eMail” in the last 12 months. Oh, and don’t worry, it’s not going to be as massively long as the last one. That’s where one of the surprises would kick in eventually … hehe

Here we go: 

Hope you folks would enjoy watching through it, just as much as the huge blast and true honour I had myself on stage delivering the speech.  The vibe in the audience was something that will be very hard for me to forget. Ever. And for that I am eternally grateful to both Will, Lou and the rest of the NixonMcIness team!, for their kind invitation and for making of Meaning something that I can just define with a single word: special! … [Truly special]

An enormous thank you, indeed, to everyone involved in making it happen!

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  1. Hi Luis, I would like to point out two aspects from your speech:
    1. E-mail has become a barrier and it is abused e.g. “cover my …” tool
    2. We have to use open collaboration methods and tools in order to convince our network to take our message/opinion/proposal through the hierarchy and correct the situation

    The way I “imagine” the point 2 in a big corporate environment is: try the bottom-up approach with the people that are “doing” the job and know what’s wrong. This means work with them to find together how to correct the situation and make an “army” on your side which will hinter any hierachy… Please, comment in case I misinterpreted your message.

    However, in many big corporations the “Pyramid” structure is missing… The majority of the basis of the Pyramid is outsourced elsewhere. This creates corporations with a “rhombus” with an enormous middle management “head of… VP of… blah blah” without having any employee (or very few) that knows “how” to do the things they decide.

    My question is: How do you get on-board on social business this middle managment on a bottom-up when you do not really have an “army”?
    You should understand that in most cases the middle management between the e-mails of point 1…

    What is your view? Any ideas?

    PS: I will add to my list this event in case there is a second version in 2013.

    1. Hi Aristeidis, thanks much for dropping by and for the wonderful commentary. Greatly appreciated! You are spot on with your first conclusion on bottom up with an “army”. It’s been all along a movement about not only just stopping the use of a particular tool to collaborate more effectively in favour of other social networking tools, but it’s been also a transformation process of work habits, of mindsets, of mentalities, where people would open up, become more transparent, trustworthy, share what they know in an open manner for everyone else to enjoy and benefit from. It’s about showing empathy, caring for one another vs. fighting one another, like we would typically do through email when we engage on those silly political and bullying games. We just don’t need that, I am afraid. We have got work to do, and helping each other become more effective at what we do is what’s at the heart of what I started with #lawwe 5 years ago.

      With regards to your comment about getting Middle Management on board there are two options in there: 1. They remain being the bottleneck and do nothing (Easy way out for them) or 2. They become the change and part of the army at the same time. If you look into it their role is critical, but that role is one of being what I call Social Bridges. They can be the big connectors of the organisation putting in touch that “army” with the rest of the executive chain. They can help host, promote, facilitate conversations where decision making is shared, where collaborating on specific goals happens in equal terms and where they transform themselves from managers with a command and control mentality into true leaders facilitating the change.

      There are plenty of middle managers who are already living the change, they walk the talk, they lead by example. There are some others who don’t. For the latter the “army” will continue to do one single thing: move on, with or without them. That’s the whole mantra behind Open Business that I will be shifting to from here onwards. Much more interesting and exciting altogether to help re-define the workplace of the future.

      PS. Yes, it will be a worth while event to attend, for sure! Perhaps we can meet up there F2F, if not sooner! 🙂

      1. Hi Luis, thank you very much for the very good reply! Social Bridges… is a nice to create concept. I will keep trying to create them 😉

        After some second thoughts I also find very important the real values of the company and how much they are actually respected. Company values = who gets promoted, rewarded or let go… In others words are those who follow the values, the ones who get promoted and respected???
        Looking around I came accross the presentation of Netfix in this article and I wanted to share with you:

        It focuses in the culture and how it can be sustained…
        What do you think?

        1. H Aristeidis, thanks a lot for reaching out and for the follow-up! Apologies that it took me a little while to go through your feedback, including that wonderful link to quite an interesting, refreshing and relevant presentation on corporate values where Open Business seems to be fitting rather nicely as part of those core values around openness, transparency, trust, engagement and so forth. I think this quote “In others words are those who follow the values, the ones who get promoted and respected???” is just right at the heart of the matter and why every corporate culture would need to do a rather brutal exercise of introspection to figure out where they stand in the world of Open Business, because certain models of doing business that we have been having in the past I don’t think they would be surviving for much longer anymore, at least, if we judge from what’s been happening in the last 5 to 8 years…

          Companies like Netflix (Thanks much for sharing that link, by the way!), and a few others are surely raising the bar of how companies should operate and live their values. It’s a matter of whether all of the other ones would want to follow suit … or not 🙂

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