The Case for Change

The world is changing fast, and with it the demands on the United Nations. The 2030 Agenda calls upon all stakeholders - the UN included - to transform the way they work. The UN Secretary-General’s reforms require all three pillars of the UN to change the way they do business. Looking at the future, the UN will need continually to adapt its posture and approach to remain relevant in the increasingly volatile environments where it operates. But is the UN system ready for change?

Who we are

The UN Lab for Organizational Change and Knowledge (UNLOCK) is part of the UNSSC Knowledge Centre for Leadership and Management and was created to promote a culture of change and innovation across the UN system. Under the auspices of UNLOCK, the Staff College offers a set of interventions designed to connect the entire UN family in the advancement of organizational change and innovation at all levels. The targeted interventions benefit from the College’s unique understanding of the UN system and its shared values, as well as its ability to draw on the insights and data from a broad network of collaborators. Since 2019, the Staff College has strengthened its partnership with the Secretariat of the UN Chief Executives Board, with a view to mutually reinforce their inter-agency and multi-disciplinary efforts, especially in support of the UN Secretary-General's Reforms.

What we do

We are a lab: we focus on those UN staff and entities who are ready for change, and support them by serving as an incubator of ideas and a platform for collaboration across four work streams:

Advisory | we provide change management advisory services to UN entities to support teams and whole organizations on their change processes
Learning | we deliver learning programmes to UN staff at all levels to build capacity to lead, manage and cope with change
Knowledge | we author case studies to share best practices and lessons learnt on driving change and innovation in the UN
Networks | we build and nurture networks of change agents across the UN system to share knowledge and foster collaboration for change.

Supporting the Secretary-General's Reforms

The Secretary-General far-reaching reform efforts of the UN development system, the peace and security pillar, and management of the UN Secretariat requires launching a series of complex change management processes.Yet there is currently limited professional expertise in change management within the UN system. This risks hampering implementation of the Reforms.
UNLOCK targets UN staff who play a leading role in driving implementation of the Secretary-General’s reforms, and aims to strengthen their capacity to design and implement change management processes to roll out the reforms. 

This is achieved by:

  1. Strengthening their knowledge and skills with respect to change management, with a particular emphasis on approaches that have worked in the UN context;
  2. Providing them with advisory services on change management as they go about implementing the reforms; and
  3. Building and nurturing a network and a community of practice among these ‘change agents’ to ensure that there is unity of purpose across reform streams and that best practices are shared across the UN system.

Beyond the reforms, the project builds a cadre of UN staff who are adept at managing change – a critical skill that will be increasingly required in the years ahead, as the UN will have to adapt its posture and approach continually, to remain relevant in the increasingly volatile environments where it operates.