Ulab stories: “impact” by Kirsty Deacon


I’m currently a PhD student at the University of Glasgow and have just completed a 3 month Scottish Graduate School of Social Science (SGSSS) internship at the Scottish Government.  The internship was around exploring attempts to gauge and illustrate any impact that u.lab may be having in Scotland and through this I became involved in gathering stories of people’s experiences of taking part in u.lab over the last two years.  My PhD is funded by What Works Scotland so I have always had an underlying interest in public service reform and the need to do things “differently” so the opportunity to be involved in a project looking at u.lab seemed to fit perfectly with this.

So over the last few months myself and Keira Oliver have been going out and having conversations with people who have participated in u.lab to ask them about their experiences.  These conversations were video recorded and excerpts from these will form a series of blog posts which will feature weekly over the next few months.  The conversations covered a wide range of individual experiences of u.lab and illustrated the many different u.lab journeys people are on.

The blog posts begin with a discussion about a hub group’s motivations for joining u.lab and then begin to travel around the U looking at experiences of:

  • Co-initiating – why and how do I/we start on this journey?
  • Co-sensing – what is really going on in the systems I/we want to change?
  • Presencing – what is my highest future possibility?
  • Crystalizing – what ideas are beginning to formulate?
  • Prototyping – what small action can I/we try to get quick feedback?

This series of blogs finishes by looking at the co-evolving part of the U journey through u.lab Scotland, with reflections from participants on their feelings of being part of both a national and global u.lab community.

The purpose of these blog posts is to give both those currently involved in u.lab and those to whom it is a new concept, an idea of what is going on in the u.lab Scotland community.

Please feel free to comment on these posts and hopefully you’ll find them as interesting, informative and thought-provoking as we did when we were having the conversations.

Look out for the first blog post later this week where we are chatting with a hub in Lanarkshire about their motivations for taking part in u.lab.


P.S.  You’ll recognise a lot of the images in the series as Kelvy Bird’s drawings.  These were done especially for Scotland during a number of events in December 2017.




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