From a hunch to a prototype

I’m Katy McNeil. I work in the Scottish Government as an Improvement Adviser. I became involved with ulab back in 2015 to explore how I could blend ideas and tools from ulab with ideas and tools from improvement. There is overlap, and I’ve found that considering where I, and the projects I support are at “in the U” helps my work.

Since August 2017 I’ve been working in the Scottish Government’s CivTech® accelerator. CivTech® enables tech businesses to respond to public service commissioners with solutions would not have emerged in the ‘business as usual’ procurement system. It works closely with public services to define a challenge around a current problem, rather than specifiying a solution. Watch the video below to hear how the model works.

Moving from the observation that the public service leaders were changed by the CivTech® pilot accelerator process through 2016, we had a hunch that we should intentionally prototype a leadership programme as part of CivTech® 2.0 in 2017. In August the 2.0 accelerator was about to kick-off with 7 new public service challenge sponsors, so we decided to launch a prototype with those sponsors, based around the business and personal development workshops the businesses participate in. I talk about how we’ve been doing that in the video below.

I’ve observed that being in the room with the businesses during the workshops is key to the experience, building shared learning and mutual understanding. We’ve been developing follow up workshops for the public service leaders focused on how the ideas can be applied to public services. From this first prototype we can see that there is value in build more of these into the next version. And I’ll be blending more ulab and improvement tools as we build.


I have noticed that both ulab and my improvement work have given me the confidence to prototype and test far more quickly, and be willing to do so publicly. For example, I am writing this the day after helping organise the One Team Gov Scotland unconference. A virtual organising team who had never met organised the event in response to a blog. If that’s not prototyping in action I don’t know what is! Great to see a few of the u.lab Scotland community in the event – I would love to hear feedback if you were one of them.


Finally CivTech® is currently looking for public service challenges at the moment – please get in touch directly if you are working in public services and would like to explore further.



Find me @ktmcnl

One thought on “From a hunch to a prototype

  1. Hi there

    I would be really interested in having a chat or at least forwarding some thoughts / challenges around a piece of work in Highland that has its core in public sector but is looking at more joined up progress but some input / support / ideas would be fantastic. It would be great if you could let me know who would be a good person to contact to discuss.

    Many thanks


    Gwen Harrison | Adult Services Commissioning Support Worker (Third Sector) | Highland Third Sector Interface | Thorfin House, Bridgend Business Park, Dingwall. IV15 9SL

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