Getting involved in the ‘U Lab’ – massive online global course on transforming self, society and business

Following promotion by the Scottish Government and others from across Scotland who tried – and liked – their experience of a ‘U Lab’ earlier this year, many hundreds of people from Scotland have signed up to participate in the next course, which begins on September 10th.

In my role as part of a new team within Scottish Government tasked with enabling and supporting transformative change across public services and government I’ve been supporting some warm-up events. This blog gives my take on what U Lab is about, and how a wider group is now coming together to host the third and final ‘warm up’ event on 1st September in Edinburgh.

My first week with Pioneer… Exploring new territory

My first week as Programme Manager for the Enabling Collaborative leadership Pioneer Programme draws to a close so I thought I’d share some thoughts in the spirit of inquiry!

My initial thought –that’s a long title job title that leaves people confused even before I get to the end of it.

Need to think of something shorter! Suggestions very welcome

For those not familiar with the Pioneer programme, it’s about testing out and learning about new ways we can collaborate more effectively in public services.

Beginnings of a book group: first session on Frederic Laloux’ Reinventing Organisations


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Last Thursday, nine of us – a mix of folk from across the third, private and public service sector – met to talk about Frederic Laloux’s book Reinventing Organisations (see www.reinventingorganisations.org).

This was the next in a few ‘ideas’ events we’ve had as part of the Skilled Workers, Skilled Citizens initiative of Scottish Leaders’ Forum. I hosted the session in Victoria Quay (Edinburgh) – hoping that some of my new colleagues from Scottish Government might be able to join (and many thanks to those who found the time…).

Reconnecting with East Ayrshire Vibrant Communities team…

This blog post is a copy of one posted to the new Skilled Workers, Skilled Citizens blog at https://transformingpublicservice.wordpress.com

Back in Spring 2013, two people told me, independently, that I ‘had to go and talk to Katie Kelly at East Ayrshire Council’.

I was blown away by the energy of that first conversation we had together. Katie was really embodying an ‘assets’ approach, perhaps more than anyone I’d every met working for a local authority before.

Skilled Workers, Skilled Citizens – Recovery Event March 2015

On 30th March, participants from Skilled Workers, Skilled Citizens pioneer sites collaborated in hosting an event that asked ‘how might our public services be in recovery?’.

SWSC SRC

A really diverse group of over 100 people came and experienced something of what it feels like to be part of a recovery movement, from the inside.

We began by meeting each other as human beings, not job titles. We circulated round different tables, and heard quick ‘seed’ talks from people in recovery and people from the wider SWSC network.

SWSC SRC pic 1After lunch, Kuladharini from Scottish Recovery Consortium led a ‘milling’ exercise. This invited us to slow down, and get in touch – in our bodies – with how it feels to genuinely connect with someone else.

After this, a whole new quality of conversation happened. People said they found the experience surprisingly ‘refreshing’, ‘gentle’ and ‘deep’.

The aim of the event was not to generate a list of immediate actions; but to open a space for reflection and perhaps to spark new kinds of connections, insight and intention.

Time will tell if it makes a difference. The event team will debrief at the end of April and produce a short video to share.

We will also report back in May back on any early feedback about what, if anything, people tell us the event has helped to spark.

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.

The Fruits of Good Communication (by Jean Byrne)

I attended the Dialogue Community of Practice in Edinburgh on 26th March.  The theme for the day was The Dialogue Community of Practice Blossoms. 

In the morning, the metaphor of the dandelion’s seeds blowing in the wind captured the idea of growth and spreading the word.  I don’t know how you feel, but I know that my understanding and confidence in this approach is growing and I now feel better equipped to consciously incorporate it in my practice.

What impressed me in the quality of the conversations I was privileged to be part of was the depth of the connection between the members of the group.  How wonderful it is to feel connected in that way!  Conversation becomes real, respect is high and we are all valued in the way we wish to be valued.  The ability to challenge ourselves and others becomes easy.  The listening and learning deepen.

This is why Dialogue is so important.  Given the choice between conversations which get ‘stuck’ with people focusing on their own agenda and conversations which are generative and fruitful, with people working well together, most – if not all – of us would choose the latter.

The range of topics that are now the order of the day provide choice for those who are new to Dialogue and those who aren’t.  If you haven’t been to one of the events before, don’t be a stranger!  You can come along and join in the group that looks at what Dialogue is.  Or if you are a ‘frequent flyer’, come and deepen your awareness by looking at Dialogue in relation to teams and systems, health and social care integration, storytelling or emotion.

The next meeting is on Friday 9th May in Stirling.  Make it your springtime resolution to be part of this growing community!

Skilled Workers, Skilled Citizens: November 2013 update

This blog is one of a regular series highlighting key events and developments with the Skilled Workers, Skilled Citizens initiative. Please don’t hold back in offering suggestions, feedback or other comments…

Whilst the focus of October was reaching out to generate widening interest in our work, this month has both continued this work whilst also following up –turning initial curiosity of people who have been told – or independently heard – about the initiative into participation as pioneer sites. It’s been an exciting month of meeting a great number of assets practitioners and strategists who share a commitment to shaping Skilled Workers, Skilled Citizens going forward.

This post attempts to capture and share key points from many of these conversations – but first, a reflection on an event called ‘Writing our Story’ that was hosted by the Permanent Secretary in the Parliament on November 18th

Writing our Story event, November 18th

Community Assets Approaches to Workforce Development

Part of the work of the Skilled Workers, Skilled Citizens initiative is sparking interest at events in our questions about how organisations can take a community assets approach to workforce development. Here’s a story of a workshop we ran at Scottish Leaders Forum event a couple of weeks ago.  

Building momentum: Skilled Workers, Skilled Citizens at the Scottish Leaders Forum 3/4th October 2013

The Scottish Leaders Forum (SLF) is a forum of Chief Executive level leaders from across Scotland’s public services.  About 150 members meet regularly to collaborate on different topics. Skilled Workers, Skilled Citizens began during 2012 as a result of a commitment by members of the SLF to collaborate on community assets approaches to workforce development. One year on, SWSC was invited to run workshops to share where we’ve got to so far with this work – and encourage more public service organisations to join in.