U Lab on tour: Prototyping journeys to help people navigate change

When I was working at Lambeth Council, I co-facilitated in the Lambeth U Lab, a programme bringing together different people to tackle local challenges together. I practiced it on myself.

1. Crystallise vision and intention

What is wanting to born in my life and work right now? I want to uncover and create the journeys that bring people together from different backgrounds to develop activities that tackle challenges they’ve discovered together in fun and creative ways.

The future I want to create is one where people feel comfortable and excited about uncovering, navigating and shaping the changes around them together. Where they would feel like they belong to communities experiencing constant change, because they feel a collective ownership over those changes.

The voices of fear, cynicism, or judgment from within me say tell me that these spaces and journeys will not be trust if they’re dominated or even initiated by people or organisations who won’t let others shape the changes they’re creating themselves.

That’s why I want to explore how people experience and navigate the changes around them, what motivates people to empathise with people who don’t think, act or live like them, what motivates people to come and act together to then work with people to create spaces & journeys that people feel collective ownership over.

2. Form a core group

The core people who could help me most bring my intention into reality are people who want to develop similar spaces and journeys or people who want to provide the assets to help us do so. The people who should experience this prototype and whom I would need to empathise with are those who want to better relate to people from other backgrounds, people creating spaces & experiences that bring people together from different backgrounds, people navigating change in unusual ways and influencing others to do the same, people experiencing different types of change.

3. Iterate, iterate, iterate

I’ve prototyped a treasure hunt where people come together in teams to tackle challenges by experiencing different types of activities & space and choosing the journeys they go on to help them uncover the needs, assets & environment to develop and test solutions to the challenge. People could iterate the prototypes in terms of how people come together, what type of challenges they should tackle, what types of activities & space people should visit, and how they should develop and test solutions.

You can prototype activities by role playing them, prototype spaces by mocking them up and processes by enacting them.

4. Platforms and spaces

In order to create safe and supportive spaces, platforms or environments that help me (or us) to “fail early in order to learn quickly”, I could invite people to different types of spaces to test these out — spaces in town centres, in estates, in public spaces — so that they are influenced by the spaces they’re in and at times where you get different types of people — during the day, in the evenings and at weekends.

5. Listen to the universe

What feedback are people giving me? How can I evolve my questions? I need to get people to co-evolve the prototype first!

6. Integrating head, heart, and hand

How can I cultivate my capacity to create the reality that I want to see outside in my heart first? I’ve created “journeys that bring people together from different backgrounds to develop activities that tackle challenges they’ve discovered together in fun and creative ways” before, from Transeuropa Village to Transformed by You. But those are journeys I’ve consciously created with people, what about the journeys that I unconsciously create, like the interactions I facilitate between colleagues, friends or other people I come into contact with. The journey of someone who’d like to get involved in a project or service that we run, a person that’s got an idea about how we should improve what we do…or even someone who doesn’t know?

Do the people around me feel comfortable and excited about uncovering, navigating and shaping the changes around them together? Do they feel like they belong to communities experiencing constant change, because they feel a collective ownership over those changes? Shouldn’t I start with that first?

Head of Strategy (Communities) @camdencouncil #localgov Director @euroalter Co-founder of #systemschange & #servicedesign progs. inspired by @cescaalbanese