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 talented designers. 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.
Under the direct supervision of UNDP RR or DRR, in close collaboration with Accelerator, UNCP CO Program and Innovation Teams, the incumbent of the post will carry out following duties and responsibilities:
1. Experiment portfolio design
- Works with UNDP innovation and programme teams and partners in mapping the context and nature of development challenges, with a particular focus on understanding systemic issues beyond traditional silos and classifications and identifying drivers of change, and levers for intervention
- Mapping systems and assets, identifying levers and logic for intervention, building hypotheses of change that are a fit to the system level challenges identified
- Identify logic against which to asses fit and coherence of the individual portfolios with the frontier challenges on which they are meant to generate learning
2. Management of prototype experiments for sustainable development challenges
- Collaborate with UNDP colleagues and stakeholders on the design and implementation of experiments across to validate the hypotheses and test the effectiveness of identified prototypes, including (but not limit to) defining variables, formulating hypotheses, and coordinating experimental protocols
- Develop a framework to capture the learning from the experiments in such a way that it favours critical reflection and rapid adaptation over static reporting
- Provide technical guidance for experiment design, roll-out and validation based on the experiment conditions, resources available, and requirements
- Proactively manage risks within experiments including those related to ethics and privacy
- Examine the results from the testing of prototypes and translate them into proposals informing programmatic decisions on next steps and implications for improvement, spin offs and scaling-up, where warrented.
3. Working out Loud
- Proactively use blog and social media to ahare findings from the portfolio implementation
- Help UNDP and partners disseminate insights from Accelerator lab experiments via social media platforms as a way to regularly reflect and engage with external audiences.
- Liaise with UNDP’s global Accelerator Lab network and share learnings and insights from the country-specific experience
- Jointly with the CO, support lab partners to develop an emerging pipeline of new initiatives, support other activities related to the design and operation of the Lab
- Design and deliver engaging and meaningful methods for reflection on learning from experiments
- Proactively use blog posts and social media to share insights, attract partners and help position Accelerator Lab at the forefront of the exploration of new trends.
- Lead other activities related to the design and operations of the Accelerator Lab
4. Organizational learning, working out loud and grafting experimentation onto the core business of UNDP
- Help embed a portfolio logic in clients’ work including the existing UNDP Country Programme (as determined and agreed with the senior management)
- Working with clients to encourage reflection and capturing of insights from individual experiments, as they related to the overall portfolio logic
- Provide technical consultation and training for national partners and the CO through various phases including asset mapping, developing a strategic portfolio logic, experiment design, prototype testing, and evaluation
Ability to make new and useful ideas work
Level 4: Adept with complex concepts and challenges convention purposefully
Ability to persuade others to follow
Level 4: Generates commitment, excitement and excellence in others
Ability to improve performance and satisfaction
Level 4: Models independent thinking and action
Ability to listen, adapt, persuade and transform
Level 4: Synthesizes information to communicate independent analysis
Ability to get things done while exercising good judgement
Level 4: Meets goals and quality criteria for delivery of products or services
Technical/ Functional competencies
Ability to manage organizational resources and deployment in pursuit of innovation approaches and initiatives
Level 5: Originate: Catalyzes new ideas, methods, and applications to pave a path for innovation and continuous improvement in professional area of expertise
Master’s degree in Social Sciences, International Development, Natural Sciences, Engineering, Design (eg. industrial or architecture), or a related area and minimum of 2 years of professional experience in social innovation, experimentation and prototyping innovations in development programming or policy;; partnership building; engagement (public and private sector) and/or resource mobilization
Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences, International Development, Natural Sciences, Engineering, Design (eg. industrial or architecture), or related area and minimum of 4 years of professional experience in social innovation; experimentation/prototyping innovations in development programming or policy;; partnership building; engagement (public and private sector) and/or resource mobilization
- Demonstrate ability to design and manage experiments, validate hypotheses and test prototypes;
- Professional experience in social innovation, experimenting innovations in development programming or policy.
Experience in following areas is desirable but not necessary:
- Proven professional knowledge and experience in social innovation, experimenting innovative solutions and approaches such as Design Thinking, behavioral insights, Qualitative and Quantitative User Research, Experiment Design & Validation, data empowerment, and collective intelligence
- Demonstrated ability to work with clients to help surface unarticulated needs
- Demonstrated ability to apply a portfolio logic to experiments
- Demonstrated ability in running co-design sessions and capacity-building in experimental design, lean iteration and impact evaluation.
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 ethnography. 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
Ethnography: 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
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Contract Duration: 1 Year with possibility for extension