What’s in a lab?

Labs are being set up to help people work differently to help organisations and places innovate.

What can we learn from how labs that aren’t developed by councils but are placed based — like Bromford Lab, Transition Network or U Labs?

I was involved in co-founding U Lab Lambeth, which built on those networks that had helped people embody those behaviours of thinking systematically, working collaboratively, testing and learning and always thinking about how to scale and embed.

U Lab fuses mindfulness, systemic thinking and prototyping — using space that Hub Brixton provided, networks that the Hub and Transition Town had cultivated, people working in a safe space in a neighbourhood where spaces were often contested between regeneration and gentrification.

It involved facilitating moving from argument to unlearning even our own assumptions to quickly testing stuff together that showed that we could produce collective goods, like the Brixton People’s Fridge

Where have you experienced that way of working? What did you learn?

What should an innovation lab help develop?

It should help people focus as much on building relationships to sustain the change as the support to help them test, as Barking & Dagenham has done with Everyone Everyday, Barcelona in developing the democratic muscle of their citizens through Decidim, Hub Launchpad building a strong network of intrapreneurs, U Lab Lambeth, building deep relationships through getting people to put themselves in each other’s shoes through empathy walks, challenge their emotions through social theatre and help people help each other practically.



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Head of Policy Design, Scrutiny & Partnerships @newhamlondon #localgov Co-founder of #systemschange & #servicedesign progs. inspired by @cescaalbanese