UN Lab for Organizational Change & Knowledge

The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls on the United Nations to transform the way it works. This transformation requires a significant shift in mindset, practices and structures of the UN and its staff. The UN family as a whole must ensure that its personnel are equipped with the right mix of skills and capacities to think, innovate and deliver as one. As a direct response to this call, UNSSC established, in 2015, the UN Lab for Organizational Change and Knowledge (UNLOCK) – a programme devoted to organizational change and transformation. By placing innovation, collaboration, leadership and staff engagement at its core, UNLOCK aims to shift how the UN system learns, thinks and works. 

When UNLOCK was conceived seven years ago – 15 change practitioners from 10 UN entities were keen to build a network of change management practitioners. They wanted to create a neutral convening space to connect, share, and support one another on work related to organizational change, transition, culture transformation and similar initiatives. With a mandate to implement the Secretary-General’s reform agenda, the discourse on how to leverage and share existing knowledge across organizations became critical, and the UNLOCK network’s membership quickly grew to over 35 different UN entities.  
Today, the UNLOCK network – facilitated by UNSSC – meets regularly throughout the year to touch base on various change management challenges that colleagues are facing across agencies. During the annual peer exchange, members discuss critical change management trends and topics. The engagements have gone on to inform themes for the UNLOCK case studies that the network co-creates.   
After the COVID-19 outbreak, the network became an even closer community, meeting weekly over many months to share the lessons and insights on working through the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. UN change managers who were tasked with supporting change, came together to share resources and learn from and with each other.  In June 2021, UNSSC hosted the sixth annual peer exchange for the UNLOCK Network which hosted over 50 participants who over three days discussed change management topics like hybrid working, the UN efficiency agenda, anti-racism and systems thinking. UNLOCK has been a hugely successful forum for discussing critical change management trends and topics and find solutions that enhance the work of the United Nations.   In addition to facilitating knowledge exchange, strengthening the network and conducting case studies to identify good practice and lessons learned, UNSSC offers, through UNLOCK, advisory services to UN entities to provide capacity building on change management. 

UNSSC’s unique position as knowledge organization and neutral convener within the UN system, has helped nurture the UNLOCK network throughout the years. To achieve this the College has relied on its members who actively live and model collaboration on change management across the UN system.