May 20, 2015
Invite to U.Lab Scotland
When the First Minister laid out her Programme for Government, she made great play of the fact that this would be the most open and accessible government yet. Participation and civic engagement were to be at its heart. Nice ideas but notoriously difficult to deliver. It’s now becoming apparent that some serious thinking has been going on in the background and plans are starting to emerge. Working with the world renowned MIT on a bespoke Scottish programme to facilitate change at all levels, Scottish Government is now inviting the country to get involved.
I am writing to invite you to participate in and help lead a unique and innovative opportunity to transform communities, organisations and businesses across Scotland. Our world is changing rapidly around us. In mobilising change to deliver the outcomes we want to see, I believe we need to align ourselves with a sense of the emerging future as well as learning lessons from the past. We want to put participation and engagement at the heart of public policy in Scotland and across communities. U.Lab is an exciting new programme which stimulates and facilitates change in a way that values these goals. It offers a highly participative, future-focussed learning journey, designed to generate new approaches to delivering results and to accelerate the translation of ideas into action. U.Lab will run over September and October 2015 and will be open to anyone to participate, at no financial cost. I hope that participants from across Scotland’s communities will join us, along with colleagues from across the public, private and third sectors. A few of us from Scotland participated in a trial version of U.Lab earlier this year: we all found it a uniquely powerful and inspirational experience, and wanted to widen this opportunity to others.
You can find out more here In summary, U.Lab is a global programme run by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and led by Otto Scharmer, one of the world’s most respected thinkers and change practitioners. U.Lab will run from 10 September until end-October 2015, and will be delivered partly online and partly through local groups meeting together (physically or online). Participation will involve a commitment of a few hours (at least 3) each week, primarily through online learning materials which can be accessed 24/7 – whenever it suits participants. U.Lab provides world-leading expertise on how to accelerate change; participants themselves will bring the particular issues that are important to them. Given the potential we believe U.Lab has to support communities and improve outcomes the Scottish Government is working with Otto Scharmer to deliver additional bespoke Scottish elements of the global programme, including developing a supporting local infrastructure of hubs across Scotland.
The invitation to you is twofold. The first is to participate yourself in U.Lab Scotland, and to invite others in your organisations, communities and networks to participate too. The more the merrier, and the formal online sign up facility will be available in a few weeks’ time. The second invitation, and the main reason for writing to you now, is to ask you to consider becoming a hub host and to encourage others to consider this role. Although it will be possible for any participant to engage with U.Lab entirely online and on their own, we are keen that where possible participants also meet in local coaching groups where they can provide and receive support from others in developing their ideas. Some hubs might be convening places for people who live in a particular geographical community and wish to focus on the needs of that community. Other hubs could support a more geographically widespread community of interest. The particular model developed would be up to those involved in each case. Although the Scottish Government is working hard to support U.Lab in Scotland we will not be influencing the specific work done within the hubs – that will be determined by the participants. In addition to hub hosts’ willingness to devote a few hours each week to U.Lab over the 2 month period and to facilitate hub discussions, the only other requirement would be that hosts were able to secure access to a physical space (usually a suitable room) or create an online space where participants could meet to discuss, display and develop their ideas. In the trial version of U.Lab, hubs were often hosted in workplaces
including local authorities, businesses, social enterprises and shared community spaces like cafés or community centres, and even in hosts’ own homes.
Hub host training and support.
We would like to invite anyone interested in participating in U.Lab Scotland, and particularly if they are interested in becoming a hub host, to attend some of the following preparatory events in Edinburgh:
1 June: 11am to 4pm – open to anyone wishing to learn more about U.Lab and how we might use it to lead transformational change in Scotland. Please book your space here
3 July: 9.30am to 5pm – strongly recommended training event for all hub hosts. We will be joined by Otto Scharmer and his colleagues to provide support and training to everyone taking on the role of hub host. Please book your space here
1 September: 9.30am to 5pm – strongly recommended preparatory event for all hub hosts. Please book your space here
Please contact Angie.Meffan-Main@scotland.gsi.gov.uk (0131 244 0545) if you have any queries.
I very much hope you’ll join us in this hugely exciting journey.