Play: a serious role in organisational transformation?

The role of creativity has long been established as pivotal to individual, organisational and business development. Scotland’s national learning creativity plan highlights that creativity is needed to see things differently, find new approaches to the challenges we all face, and understand how it can shape our future.


What about the role of play? Is it the same as creativity? Does it have a role in organisational change? I’ve been pondering this for some time, particularly in relation to the challenge of how we move from what is already known (and which we know doesn’t work) to finding new solutions. We recognise that we need to change, but how do we leave the old ways behind and explore the borderlands to something new: the unknown? We need to be more creative – but how?

Co-creating the next U Lab event: notes from our first design meeting

u.lab Scotland

My take on the ‘U Lab’ U.Lab Global pic

For me, the  ‘U Lab’ (sign up at : is about offering people ways to lead ‘from an emerging future’ through times of transformation and disruption, bringing to this task an ‘open mind, open heart, open will’. It’s been put together by a group from MIT in America (the same group that well known names in the world of systems change – like Peter Senge – belong to).

In a way it U Lab is a crystallization of decades of learning from social and business change movements, and it’s founded on a stark critique of our current economic, social and political thinking that Scharmer calls ‘organised irresponsibility’.

At heart, U Lab is an attempt to support and catalyse an emerging community of change makers to step up our impact by paying more attention to how we learn and create new solutions for ourselves, and…

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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.

What is U.Lab?

u.lab Scotland

Do you want to make some kind of change, big or small, in the world?  Are you ready to develop aspects of yourself in order to do it?  To suspend judgment and cynicism and see what might emerge from being guided through a highly experiential learning process?

If you answer yes to all of these, then U.Lab might be for you.

U.Lab Global pic

U.Lab is a new learning experience that blends a global, online learning platform (called a MOOC, or Massive Open Online Course) with real-life “meet ups” in small coaching groups and larger Hubs.

Some of the main premises are that:

  • in a complex, rapidly changing world, we need to learn from what is emerging rather than relying on what we’ve done in the past,
  • Globally, we are collectively producing results no one wants – e.g. increasing inequalities – and this is exacerbated by leadership practices that can focus on what’s best…

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

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

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…).