Skilled Workers, Skilled Citizens: July Update

Can you help design/host events leading up to and including a big SWSC ‘Ceilidh’ in Glasgow in February 2015?

SWSC has established a pattern of regular Reference Group meetings. During our first year, these have been hosted by individual pioneer sites.

This year, we can build on this with events that more actively seek to cross-fertilise learning.

We can build towards a major event in February 2015 and publishing an associated report/resource by April 2015.

Dates and times below – please let me know if you’re willing to lend a hand or host (

EVENT 1: September 11th: ‘Open Space’ style Reference Group

At the closing circle of our June 23rd gathering in Edinburgh, people said they’d like space to deepen conversations on particular topics. These include:

  • Reflecting on words we use routinely (like ‘front line’) to ask ‘are we mindful of what we are saying and meaning?’
  • Gender dynamics as we find ways to shift power and control to citizens;
  • Working through grief associated with letting go of old ways of being and working; and

A great way to create space for these and other topics would be to run our next event in an Open Space way. This allows all present to participate in and offer any conversation they like. It works really well.  Can your organisation offer to host us on September 11th? We need a physical venue with space for at least 2/3 parallel sessions… and

Can you offer to facilitate Open Space (I’ve done it before and can support if that would encourage you to volunteer to give it a go!)

EVENT 2: November 13th (‘Provisional title: Everything about us, with us’)… interested in co-creating this meeting?

How might skilled citizens and workers influence workforce development in the public service?

Are you interested in co-creating an event on this and related themes emerging from our network?

A rough working title is ” Everything about us, with us” (a positive twist on the phrase ‘nothing about us, without us, is for us’ see for example

First design team meeting August 14th 10am-1pm in the Scottish Recovery Consortium premises, 30 Bell Street, Glasgow.

Let me know if you are interested in joining this design team –

EVENT 3: February 2015 – SWSC Ceilidh/Cèilidhean/Ceiluradh (provisional title rough translation celebration – festival – convergence)

SCVO have offered to co-host a large event (200 people? 500 people?) as part of the Gathering, SECC, Glasgow. I recommend we do this – it seems to me a great opportunity to come alongside some of our third sector colleagues on home turf, whilst bringing our own healthy mix of participants to share, digest and create new learning together – which we can capture as an outcome of SWSC to date.

As there is time … we could get REALLY CREATIVE with how this event might look, feel, (smell?). As well as doing some critical friend type story listening/reflection/sense-making, we could mix in fun things like a SWSC band (who else out there knows some tunes?); doing some kind of participatory theatre exercise to help us experience together what this shift of ways of working feels like in our bones; working with the SECC to make sure a local co-op food supplier can get approved to do some catering… etc etc..

I propose we have our first design/planning meeting in the second half of the next Governance Group meeting (11.30am, September 11th, venue to be decided).

Reflection:  SWSC June Reference Group co-hosted by Scottish Government

Some personal reflections on our most recent Reference Group conversation:

During the first year of SWSC, pioneer sites have hosted Reference Group meetings every few months. This time, members of the Scottish Government’s optimists (or assets) network hosted us in the Grassmarket Community Initiative (Edinburgh) – including a fantastic lunch in its brand new facility.

In the morning, our group split into two. Seasoned SWSC participants joined a ‘governance’ conversation (Notes from this session will be available on the SWSC wiki pages at by 1st August) whilst a parallel session created a real buzz through exercises that offered an introduction to assets approaches.

SWSC Reference Group meetings always feature a close-up story of a team or organisation that has/is attempting to put assets approaches into action. This time five members of a policy team reflected on what they remember – and learned – from an experience of attempting to embody an assets approach, how it differed from ‘business as usual’, and how this time has changed their approach to their work as civil servants today. The content of the presentation was offered under ‘Chatham House Rules’, but the team is currently working on creating a resource to share that foregrounds learning from the session.

A closing circle asked people to say what they would do as a result of the day. Three clear offers of future sessions/workshops emerged from this:

  • on how the metaphors we use (such as ‘coalface’ and ‘frontline’) shape practice?
  • on gender (is the feminine more ‘up for’ taking an assets approach than masculine ways of being – and if so, what are the implications?)
  • and on the role for grieving (for old or dying ways of working) in shifting to more assets ways of doing things?

We now intend to open a space for these topics and more on September 11th (see above).


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