When faced with a complex and ambiguous work environment, how do you, as a potential leader, envision the future? How can you deliver on your vision in a way that conveys meaning and drives positive change within your organisation? In this course you will explore how leaders can create a compelling vision and communicate it, and how they create meaning and make work more meaningful. You will look at the role the brain and the body play in processing meaning, and how this can inspire your employees to follow you and your vision. This course will also teach you how to develop meaningful brand identity and the role it can play in clarifying and reinforcing your leadership vision within your organisation, for your partners and for your customers. You will discover that meaning crosses into almost every aspect of management. Finally, you will better understand how social and cultural factors can influence what you can achieve and your limitations when seeking to create meaning.
Meaning and making meaning
This week we start off with exploring the essence of meaning, and why meaning is important at work. We also explore the conditions that facilitate or hinder meaning making. We look at how meaning could be enhanced by ensuring a fit between work and those who undertake it. We talk about the importance of linking employees’ activities with a significant bigger purpose and how this might be accomplished. We look at aspects of designing work to increase meaning and then flip our perspective and try to understand the concept of meaninglessness and some of the factors that contribute to meaninglessness.
Leadership and meaning making
In this week, you explore the use of symbols and language in developing meaning – how leaders can use metaphors and imagery to convey, not just thoughts but feelings – a very powerful tool in meaning making. You will learn how leaders apply a powerful meaning making tool, framing, which can be utilised to analyse problems through the lens of organisational goals and trigger meaning making aimed at problem-solving. You will also explore the power of social identity in meaning making by learning how leaders can leverage the power of the social group to achieve organisational objectives.
Brain, body and storytelling in meaning making
This week you will explore a slightly different perspective on meaning making that highlights the role of neuroscience and storytelling. You will look at how the brain works and how to influence people’s interpretation of meaning. You will learn some physiological techniques to project meaning through your voice and breath, body language and posture. You will learn how storytelling exploits some of our ancient tribal instincts to trigger meaning making.
Branding as meaning making
In this week, you we will learn about the role of branding in communicating meanings, and the role of different levels of meanings, including functional, emotional, and higher purpose in this communication process. You will be shown how to shape meanings you wish to communicate and how to shape the perceptions of your organisation's stakeholders over the long-term. You will be introduced to different categories of brand meanings, or brand personalities.
You will also analyse visual and verbal brand elements, and also supporting branding strategies in communicating those personalities and meanings through brand names, logos, characters, and taglines, among others.
This week, you will look at the process of choosing the brand name as the first step in communicating your brand personality and meaning. You will learn about visual logo and typeface design, building on your understanding about using symbols in meaning making, you will realise the importance of incorporating different symbols to convey your brand meaning. But as not all your consumers are visual communicators, some people are verbal, so it is also crucial to talk about slogans and taglines as your key verbal element. You will also learn about some shortcuts in meaning making, pairing your brand with external entities to get energy and meaning from them. Finally, you will also become aware of challenges of measuring meaning making efforts, and how major brand valuation firms incorporate metrics in their methodologies to capture meaning making efforts.
Meaning in social context
In this week, you will put the management of meaning in a wider societal and historical context and appreciate that we don’t invent meanings for things as central to our lives as the work we do from scratch – the meaning this holds for people is instead patterned onto and dovetails with much longer values and ideas. Understanding this gives us a better grasp of what we can hope to achieve, and the limitations and difficulties that we face, when seeking to create meaning for others though our leadership roles. You will be introduced to the three most significant understandings of the problem of meaning in relation to work and business that have been formulated across two centuries of academic work - Marxist alienation of work, Weberian religious spirit of capitalism, and the contemporary new spirit of capitalism with emphasis on aspects such as innovation and social responsibility. You will be guided through thinking about the implications of these ideas for how we approach meaning making today. By developing an appreciation of these major social theories of meaning, you will be better able to appreciate both the possibilities and the limitations that you, and other leaders, are faced with in making and managing meaning.