The UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021 embraces the complexity of development and commits the organization to helping countries find faster, more durable solutions to achieve Agenda 2030. Important development trends like urbanization, climate change, and rising inequalities pose significant challenges on our path to achieve the 2030 agenda of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
UNDP has begun incubating a number of strategic initiatives aimed at ensuring UNDP is ‘fit for purpose’ to deliver a new generation of solutions in line with the challenges the world faces. One such key strategic initiatives is the Country Accelerator Lab Network. The initiative is a recognition that increasingly interrelated development challenges require going beyond business as usual and single point, linear and silver bullet responses in development. Instead, they call for an interdisciplinary approaches and non-linear solutions that crowd in the collective efforts of variety of partners and tap into local insights and the knowledge of people closest to the problem and the solutions. The initiative is also a recognition and an investment in the emerging momentum among a growing number of UNDP Country Offices around joining together disruptive, cutting edge methodologies with contextual, country-based insights and expertise to accelerate impact and progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals.
We are building the largest and fastest learning global network of Accelerator Labs (initially setting up 60 labs in 60 countries) embedded within UNDP’s global architecture and country platforms. The new offering builds on the latest thinking from the fields of complexity science, lead user innovation and collective intelligence to accelerate development impact.
Our network will surface and reinforce locally sourced solutions at scale while mobilizing a wide and dynamic partnership of actors contributing knowledge, resources and experience. The idea is to transform our collective approach by introducing new protocols, backed by evidence and practice, which accelerate the testing and dissemination of solutions within and across countries. This will enable the global community to collectively learn from local knowledge and ingenuity at a speed and at a scale that our societies and planet require. This will be achieved by:
Building on locally-sourced solutions, finding things that work and expanding on them;
Rapid testing and iteration to implement what works and go beyond the obvious solutions;
Combining the best understanding, ideas and expertise to generate collective knowledge;
Accelerating progress by bringing expertise, creativity and collective intelligence to bear.
The Accelerator Lab will undertake i) external facing interventions addressing priority development challenges, and ii) internally facing experiments to embed new ways of doing development within the existing UNDP portfolio.
You are capable and excited about starting, design and managing activities, direct engagement with local communities and collaboration across global networks. You are driven by learning new things, figuring out how they work and translating them across sectors. You tell stories of emergent solutions and you gravitate to solving global development challenges.
You have a natural inclination to interdisciplinarity, cross cultural mindset and cross sectoral experience with the cosmopolitan attraction for diversity. You are driven by a strong sense of purpose and commitment to make change happen and a keen eye to identify emerging opportunities and ‘at the edge’ trends. You are open to discovery and exploration, capable of articulating insights and ideas through visual thinking, open to serendipity and discovery yet are pragmatic and constructive working with public sector authorities. You are comfortable with ambiquity, capable of zooming out for context and zooming in for content and execution- sharp in pursuit of objectives, fast at adapting and changing course when needed. You have superb compentencies in program and portfolio management, are at ease with decision-making processes and dynamics of different models of governance.
You are curious, quirky and fun, natural strategic thinkers and a talented designer. You understand systems, the good, the bad and the ugly, and are capable of working within bureaucracies to make change, leverage technology to extend, enhance and multiply exploration, discovery and execution. You are digitally savy, you hack tools, and you are keen to be a part of a large global organization exhibiting United Nations values.
Duties and Responsibilities
Lead lab efforts in deep community immersion, collective intelligence and solutions mapping
Developing and sustaining positive relationships with a range of local community and citizen groups;
Identifying and training local volunteers, recruiting Universities and think tanks for sustaining long term community outreach and engagement and identification of lead users, providing training and mentoring;
Translaton of ethnographic and field research findings into learning and action for the acceleration lab activities;
Design specific field research and participatory methods to focus on the most vulnerable populations and those not usually engaged in public policy debates on development methods;
Explore, document and increase understanding on emerging methods of tapping into collective intelligence for sustainable development.
Convene the processes of solution intake, assessment and designing prototypes for diffusion
Design and implement methodology for intaking indigenous knowledge and local solutions, consolidating, screening and further describing incoming ideas;
Design criteria/metrics for assessing consolidating incoming local solutions;
Conduct field research to determine best methods fo making solutions transferable;
Test the solutions and potential ideas in real life context to understand potential channels of spreading (including identifying private and public sector venues for uptake);
Analyse system level issues that local solutions address (and don’t address, therefore exposing gaps);
Design of ‘things and tools’ needed to successful scale indigenous knowledge, lead user solutions, turning its insights into systemic change;
Design methods for integrating collective intellengence into UNDP programmes and engage with programme and project managers to translate ideas into concrete practice.
Undertake cultural and behavioral analyses for the accelerator lab portolio of experiments
Advise on the accelerator lab’s experiment portfolio to ensure experiments are designed based on people’s knowledge, behaviors and peer to peer methods of managing and diffusing knowledge about sustainable development issues;
Ensure ethics framework is implemented for the lab’s portfolio of experiments;
Design methods to test accelerator ideas for their applicability and diffusion;
Integrate cultural norms, peer to peer methods and behaviorial insights into technology based experiments;
Convene a broad range of new partners with UNDP including artists, community organizers and emergent movements to explore areas for collaboration on sustainable development.
Work out loud and Organizational Learning
Lead communication efforts and proactively use blog and social media to share findings from field research;
Ensure UNDP’s communication efforts respect privacy and ethics considerations;
Liaise with the broader Accelerator Lab network and the support team to share learnings and insights from the country-specific experience ;
Help embed solutions mapping lead user methodology within the CO portfolio, design and provide trainings that include various methodologies and steps to identify and work with lead users.
Innovation – Ability to make new and useful ideas work.
Leadership – Ability to persuade others to follow.
People Management – Ability to improve performance and satisfaction.
Communication – Ability to listen, adapt, persuade and transform.
Delivery – Ability to get things done.
Innovation – Ability to manage organizational resources and deployment in pursuit of innovation approaches and initiatives.
Required Skills and Experience
Master’s degree in Anthropology, Sociology, Behavioral psychology, Design, Communications or related field and minimum of 2 years of professional experience in development programming or policy; social innovation; partnership building; engagement (public and private sector) and/or resource mobilization.
Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology, Sociology, Behavioral psychology, Design, Communications or related field and minimum of 4 years of professional experience in development programming or policy; social innovation; partnership building; engagement (public and private sector) and/or resource mobilization.
Demonstrated ability to undertake field research in remote communities and document ethnographic evidence and honor expertise in usual places;
Demonstrate ability to work in participatory methods, follow the lead of people as experts in their own sustainable development;
Experience in following areas is desirable but not necessary:
Professional experience in development programming or policy and social innovation;
Proven professional knowledge and experience in approaches such as Ethnography, behavioral insights, Qualitative and Quantitative User Research, service journeys or human centered design;
Demonstrated ability to work with partners to help surface unarticulated needs;
Proven ability to design ethical frameworks for managing public sector experiments.
Proficiency in written and spoken English.
*The Accelerator Labs will be comprised of a core team with niche capabilities that focus on exploration, experimentation and ethnographic solutions mapping. Within the first 6-8 months of the Lab fully functioning, each member of the Core team will take the lead on one of the following functions:
The Core team of the Accelerator lab will have capabilities in:
Experimentation (instituting rapid learning about emerging challenges through design and running of a portfolio of experiments that is coherent with the type of challenges that are part of UNDP’s strategic plan, and
Ethnographic solutions mapping: deep immersion in community dynamics, identification of and work with lead users, and implications of bottom up solutions for the policy design
Exploration: The exploration function focuses on discovery and sensemaking of emerging trends, implications for systemic impacts and risks, and their potential for accelerating progress toward SDGs. Its work feeds into the portfolio of experiments ensuring its coherence with the emerging risks and opportunities (direct collaboration with the Experimentation Lead) and connects local dynamics and solutions (link with the Ethnography Lead) into the broader national and international ecosystem of potential funders, partners, and allies thereby increasing the chances for acceleration. While critical for the functioning of the Accelerator Lab, the exploration function will also service the Country Office as determined and agreed with the UNDP senior management.
Important applicant information
All posts in the GS categories are subject to local recruitment.
Applicant information about UNDP rosters
Note: UNDP reserves the right to select one or more candidates from this vacancy announcement. We may also retain applications and consider candidates applying to this post for other similar positions with UNDP at the same grade level and with similar job description, experience and educational requirements.
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