A few months ago, i discovered the Meaning Conference annual gathering for people who believe business must be a force for positive change in our world. I found the initiative awesome and decided to contact one of the initiators, Jenni, to have her point of view, mindset and vision of business. She is a very like-minded leader & expert in collaborative collaboration to make ideas and people grow.
After a few emails, Jenni, accepted to share a Skype call with me. Below are a few notes I took from our time together.
What is your professional background ? And why did you make these choices ?
I have a background in digital and technology, working in user experience, web design, social media, business consulting in various organizations, including a company democraticly run. One day, I realized I had been alive 16 000 days. I am 47, half way through my life. What will I do with my 16000 more days alive ? I realized that what i prefer is change. Meaning is my idea. I wan’t to shape the Business on how i wan’t it to look like.
How do you find out the way you wanted to change things ?
Changing big organisations has been really difficult. Once you have identified the ones who want to change - they don’t have the particular interpersonal skills Or the permission from someone higher than them, to make change happen. Whereas, cities works organically. You don’t have permission from anyone to do anything. I chose my city, Brighton. It is kind of the perfect size to see change happen.
For me, the best way i could make change is to bring together people from all around the world to start new conversations about purpose and meaning. That is how we started in September an annual conference, called Connecting Brighton. I also started Spring Forward, annual celebration about the role of women in technology.
What have you learnt from the Meaning Conference ? What is the next challenge ?
I have been organizing Meaning Conference for 4 years. Our previous subjects were about happiness and mindfulness at the workplace, and today, that conversation is just mainstream. It is becoming harder and harder to deal with the different levels of expectations of the audience : the regular guests, experts on the subject and the others just discovering.
What are you proud of ?
So, we have been quite successful to find ideas that are just on the edge of breaking:) I got to have a 50/50 gender balance, even if it took me long time to find female speakers. Meaning Conference has brought change into people's life. Some people have changed their job, their organization when they returned, by performing their workshop in their family for example. We need to evolve and that is our next step : to accelerate this change.
What do you think should be the subject of the next Meaning conference ?
The subject that i really wanted to explore is Compassion & Empathy : present for others to be mindful in yourself. If you are present in yourself, them you can present with the others. If you had a world that would be more compassionate, we would be more efficient in the organizations. But it is difficult to be empathetic at work when you are under pressure.
As a consultant in big organizations, I see that emotional violence happens all the time in organizations. If you are crying at the results of someone else's behaviour, there is something wrong. Actually, a workplace that is full of acts of violence is not effective.
What do you think about the waste of talents in organizations ?
It is related to the education system based on examination and conformity that it is producing a product for the wrong year.
Conformity is not required in the workplace of today.
I believe that education needs to fundamentally change. I am interested in what’s happening in Finland. And also, there is this whole system of sociocratic schooling in which the students are responsible for managing their learning and the school organization. There is a sociocratic school in Amsterdam.
The idea of self-managing your learning and learning how to self-manage is one of the things I would like to see.
What is wrong with the current educational system ?
The education system in which my children and I went through prepares us to something that is never gonna happen, which is get a JOB FOR LIFE. The reality is that today we can have 3 differents positions at the same time.
Money has become the end goal. Students are told they need to get a good job so that they can buy a house, with a car and a dog. Is this all what we have to offer to our children ?
We need to find ways to help children to learn how to explore and then follow the things that they care most about.
What is your vision of the education system ?
Education should actually be enlightenment and enrichment. I would rather have an education system based on emergence where new thing happens all the time. As new things happen, new opportunities will emerge. It is possible to find what animates you and go for it.
Change can be difficult when people feel threaten when they are resistant, afraid. It requires a certain level of resilience, to see what kind of opportunities are emerging. Also, there are a lot of fears, fears of failure, fear of loss that blocks individuals.
But being confident with the new emergence and make conscious choices about what you have done is a really important skills and will become more and more important.
The planet is going to face a massive environment of changes : better be prepared and comfortable with it. Dealing with emergency actually helps you to make better choices.
What do you think about the role of creativity in education ?
Individuals are all born creative. But they are certain things that happens when you grow up that brings you to develop a set of beliefs about ourselves, that can be limited. We can develop a whole story about ourselves that can limit us. We create our own beliefs. So if you can challenge people assumptions, or at least help explore themselves, you can change their mind about their creativity. We all do something creative in our own way.
What are the tools resources and initiatives that we can have access to reveal our natural creativity ?
We have got a full spectrum of things we can have access to, but as we grow older, we narrow them. We can use different experiences to enlarge what we can have access to.
- Use art to explore subjects that we forget to explore in business. Liberating the unconscious reasoning enables us to access our imagination and use it in ways that we might never have imagined possible. For example, Marcus Coates, a performance artist who believes in shamanic rituals to have access to deeper unconsciousness.
- Theory U can help us to elevate us through different phases. (Theory U - Martin Scarce)
- The Social prescencing theatre and body movement are interesting elements.
- Projects such as Alptitude, initiative from Happystartup school work on business ideas in the Alps, during walkshops Charles Davis has been a friend for a couple of years. He is researching about where our creative energy comes from.
Where does the creative energy comes from, according to him ?
Every idea comes from a founding need. Our personal work is to find where it comes from to be really clear about why we do what we do and where to go.
Your energy will come out from achieving something you deeply and maybe secretly desire.
Interview led by Diane Lenne published on 04/04/2015