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To accelerate the adaptation of the ICRC to the humanitarian needs of beneficiaries and to changes in its environment, its Directorate recently adopted a series of measures regarding ways to support and lead innovation.


It determined that innovation is a shared responsibility distributed across the organization and will be strengthened at three levels:

  • First level innovation: reinforced and mainstreamed across the entire organization in the spirit of continous improvement, this is to become a reflex, part of ICRC’s practice and culture;
  • Second level innovation:  bottom-up innovative ideas and solutions, originating at the point of needs, whether field or HQ, are to be better captured, tested and supported, with a view to being rapidly adopted when and where appropriate;
  • Third level innovation: strategic challenges are to be addressed purposely, in a top-down manner, through dedicated Research&Developement (R&D) efforts.


To that purpose, the Directorate decided on the creation of an Innovation Board (InnoBoard), ad hoc Challenge Teams and an Innovation Facilitation Team.

Chaired by the Director-General, the InnoBoard drives the organization’s overall innovation agenda. Ad hoc Challenge Teams are set up by the InnoBoard as needed, with specifically defined ToRs and timeframes, to address strategic innovation challenges in an “out-of-the-box” mode. The Innovation Facilitation Team, a three-person team led by the Head of Innovation supports the InnoBoard in the implementation of its mandate.

Purpose of the post


The Head of Innovation supports the InnoBoard in building and driving ICRC’s innovation agenda, coordinating innovation efforts across the organization with the support of relevant external stakeholders.

Main duties and responsibilities


1. Continuous improvement as a reflex within the organization (1st-level innovation)

In close collaboration with the HR Department, the Head Organizational Change, the Head of the Project Management Office and the Head of Internal Communications, supports the adoption and mainstreaming of a continuous improvement mindset across the ICRC:

  • Ensures innovation to enable continuous improvement is integrated in key HR processes and training modules;
  • Helps nurture a culture of continuous improvement and identify and help to address resistance to change within the organization.


2. Boosting bottom-up Innovation (2nd-level innovation)

Promotes and enables the identification, testing and implementation of « bottom-up » innovative proposals

  • Serves as focal point for innovative proposals from colleagues in the field and at HQ; reviews and challenges proposals/ideas, calling upon internal and external experts for assessment; scans the environment for existing solutions;
  • Collects opinions of relevant colleagues and prepares critical analysis for submission, if appropriate, to the InnoBoard;
  • Upon decision of the InnoBoard, allocates funding and human resources, facilitates and supports pilots as needed, monitors progress;
  • Analyses replication, scale-up and/or mainstreaming potential and submits related decisions to InnoBoard.


3. Strategic innovation needs addressed through challenge teams (3rd-level innovation)

Critically assists the InnoBoard in mandating and supporting innovation challenge teams to address mission-critical issues

  • Helps identify and frame critical challenges, define assignments and establish timelines for challenge teams;
  • Formulates staffing recommendations and support the mobilization of expert resources (peers, academic and corporate partners);
  • Organizes brainstorming and “acceleration” sessions with the InnoBoard as needed.


4. Innovation knowledge and community building

Ensures continuous learning and cultivates and facilitates a community of « innovators »:

  • In close coordination with relevant services, builds and maintains an open-access repository of all internally submitted ideas, tested pilots and lessons-learnt;
  • Develops and maintains a roaster of internal and external experts to support assessment and development of innovative proposals;
  • Monitors developments related to humanitarian innovation and keeps abreast of latest tools and methodologies for cultivating and boosting innovation;
  • Nurtures relationships with other institutions in the global humanitarian innovation ecosystem, especially within the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.


5. InnoBoard secretariat

Serves as substantive secretariat to the InnoBoard ensuring efficient and effective use of its members’ time and contributions:

  • Prepares the agenda of InnoBoard meetings and related documentation, ensuring proposals are timely and ready for discussion;
  • Communicates and ensures the implementation of InnoBoard decisions;
  • Oversees and monitors the portfolio of innovation initiatives, flagging and helping address critical issues, and secures alignment with the Project Board Portfolio to ensure optimal investments;

Manages the innovation budget on behalf of InnoBoard, including deployment of human and financial resources to support pilots and affected teams.

Education and experience required


Solid generalist with a passion for and experience in innovation and strategic thinking. Responsive, dynamic, and entrepreneurial personality, with a strong future- and solution-orientation.

Inclusive leader with a collaborative style, sound judgment and interpersonal acumen. Stamina to overcome resistance, manage complexity and challenge.

Desired profile and skills


  • Strong conceptual, analytical and problem-solving skills (capability to decipher complex problems, frame issues and continuously learn);
  • Confirmed planning and organization capabilities (define assignments, manage complex processes, ensure follow up);
  • Solid understanding of innovation methods and tools and successful track record of supporting the design and delivery of innovation initiatives;
  • Proven ability to challenge, coach, support, mobilize and empower others;
  • Demonstrated capacity to build bridges, connections and partnerships, and to work effectively in a transversal non-hierarchical mode;
  • Ability to track and juggle multiple tasks/priorities, with a high degree of productivity, adaptability and follow-through;
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills in English and ideally also in French;
  • In-depth understanding of the humanitarian sector. ICRC and/or Movement experience a strong asset.

Additional information


Type of role: Resident 

Type of contract: Open-ended 

Working rate: 100% 

Application deadline: Friday, 23 June 2017

Before applying, please make sure that you have read the requirements for the position and that you qualify.
Applications from non-qualifying applicants will most likely be discarded by the recruiting manager.

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  • Organization: ICRC - International Committee of the Red Cross
  • Location: Geneva
  • Grade: Mid/Senior
  • Occupational Groups:
  • Closing Date: 2017-06-23

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