Meaning and the iPractice – T&Cs DO NOT apply

It’s mostly about work and our profession that I use this site as an outlet to share thoughts, stimulate others and generally get stuff going to improve HR and work.  That’s why I do it.  Click bait titles?  Self-indulgent masked glorification?  Doom philosophies with pompous intellectual condescend?  Not for me.  Positivity, hope, growth, learning, respect.  Those are words I have in mind when I draft on here.

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So this is a little indulgent though but with a good meaning.  Ah Meaning.  That’s the theme here.  The Meaning Conference 2014 beckons tomorrow and I cannot wait.  Last year was my first chance to attend and I loved every nanosecond of it.  Nixon McInnes should be held up as heroes for giving us such AMAZING people and case studies to show that there is hope to – as the badge I got last year so brilliantly put it “unfuck work”.

It really hit me at a time when I needed a higher purpose.  I was a year into my self-employed adventure.  I had a good amount of work coming in.  I was labelling myself a hacker, a disruptor and a social force for good.  Not some pompous over-label; something I felt defined me.  It was also important for me to realise that I am only one person and I needed more people to help me achieve what I had now come to believe.  I COULD change work for the better.  But not without help.

So I enlisted some friends.  Knowing a little about social business and how trendy that is, I thought it best to set things off in this way because it felt right.  Forget the trendy tag.  I didn’t want to set up a conventional company.  I’d left the Government and Not-for-Profit world because of coventions.  I had a chat with a pioneering guy in social and new ways Jon Bains.  He told me about his practice model with a company.  And it hit me like a bolt in the forehead.

I wanted to set up a practice.  A community.  Not a cliche though.  A living breathing collection of people who all WANTED to be there and who had something to offer.  So I did that. I talked to some people.  Amanda Sterling from Auckland, Ana Marica and Catalina Contoloru from Bucharest, Julie Drybrough from Edinburgh and more.  People were interested and curious, sceptical and yet willing.

I called it an iPractice because the “i” stood for independent; innovative; inclusive; in-tune; in-demand whatever.  It needed to feel there was an I in the we.

I realised that this was more powerful than I first thought because not only could I commit to working with a client where I didn’t have the expertise but others had, but they could do the same.  So we embarked on a “no commission / work out the plan and revenue as we go along / no formal enlisting into a company”.  We had either our own businesses; a job where we might have the odd dabble in freelancing; caring responsibilities that meant a conventional job wasn’t the thing needed; or students with some time to lend to working alongside study.  Students; carers; selfies and dabblers.

It probably shouldn’t work because to many professional and serious business people it’s like the playground gang in the corner.

Yet it does work.

People find work; bring it in.  They do their own thing and share.

Work comes in and we opt in because we know we can and want to do it.

It’s where nothing is allocated.  Everything is agreed through dialogue.

Where learning is the fabric of our coming together and sharing is our currency.

Where we believe in our mission and each other.

It’s an unconventional model yet looks like a load of associates huddling around a consultancy.

It’s human beings coming together to do something bigger than they can individually.

it’s a bit exclusive.  Not for everyone.  Shouldn’t be for everyone.  Linked by a bond of trust.

There have been some people ask for in but they’re not right for it.  Yet are right to partner with.  It works on hunches and experiences and vibes and just “fit”.  If people aren’t “in” they’re not lesser for it.  They’re collaborators for sure.  Experiences have taught me that you have to choose carefully those who you link with the tightest.  Doesn’t mean others aren’t in the chain – but the closer links are the most important and need very emotional/spiritual squaring.

So we created a Google+ communtiy as our space and it works brilliantly for keeping in touch.  We use Asana as a project management app and Google docs and Drive etc. for our shared working spaces.  It works a treat.

Since doing this we now number 65.  And cover New Zealand, South Africa, Romania, Poland, Italy, the US and all over the UK.  Some folks are inactive others more so.  We have about a quarter male members; about a third of the iPractice have a job.  Some people started without one and now have one.  Some people have only just joined having just started a new phase in their career.

It’s not perfect, it will have flaws but mostly it’s great because of that.

Now I’m not inviting everyone in – that would almost defeat the object.  Instead I’m urging you to think beyond just you and create YOUR community.  People you love, and trust and believe in.  Then join us, and Culturevist, and CROS in Romania, and Nixon McInnes and others.

When we set up our communities and we find common ground with others we can perhaps truly start to effect those changes we know we need whilst we’re still working in it.

I’m doing my bit because of this calling but I’m fuelled by others I have chosen to share this with.  I am inspired by those I’m not including but will them on to their thing.  I am determined that we can make changes that stick for the better.

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For the sake of others maybe but for the sake of love.  The love of our work.