Head of Exploration
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 ambiguity, 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 competencies 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.
Duties and Responsibilities
1) Horizon scanning and market intelligence for the Eswatini Accelerator Lab
- Identify, visualize and communicate emerging development trends, data, technologies and issues with a particular focus on the edges and “below the radar screen” events, opportunities and players, and systemically map their impacts on economy, environment, society, and livelihoods of the poorest.
- Together with the Accelerator lab team, map and assess local solutions and define pathways for their scale up in policies or markets
- Identify new sources of evidence and insights, analyze and visualize patterns in unstructured sources of data, present new insights in accessible and comprehensive ways to enable sensemaking and analysis
- Proactively explore and identify the new methods/approaches and frontier knowledge to tackle development challenges, collaborate with the Experimentation lead to turn these into learning options for addressing specific policy issues in the country
- Contribute to the formulation of the Accelerator Lab service lines to the UNDP Country Programme based on findings from horizon scanning, systems’ mapping, and local knowledge.
2) Partnership and resource mobilization
- Map potential partners across the public and private sectors with versatile expertise to strengthen the Lab’s capacities for acceleration thereby expanding the Lab’s distributed network both nationally and internationally
- Explore the diversification of funding and investment sources through proactively mapping potential partners and building value proposition for their investment in the Lab and its portfolio of experiments
- Anticipate the emerging needs, shape the demand from the clients and support the CO to develop a pipeline of emerging projects responding to those
- Coordinate the partnerships and communicate the activities and progresses of relevant projects with partners.
3) Organizational learning and interface with the core business of UNDP
- Support identification of future skills required for the Accelerator Lab, the Country Programme and Lab’s clients
- Design and deliver horizon scanning trainings for partners and UNDP, help embed horizon scanning and attention to the ‘edge’ activities in the CO and with the partners
- Organize and implement knowledge sharing and network events;
- Lead other activities related to the design and operations of the Accelerator Lab.
4) Working out loud
- Share findings from the exploration on future trends, new methodologies/approaches, potential partnership, funding opportunities, and others within UNDP and with partners;
- 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.
- 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
Detailed list of competencies can be accessed through https://intranet.undp.org/unit/ohr/competency-framework/SitePages/Home.aspx
and hiring managers are encouraged to familiarize themselves for more information
- 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.
* 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: 1) Coordination; 2) Training; 3) Communications
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.
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.
- Professional experience in development programming or policy and social innovation;
- Professional experience in partnership building and engagement (public and private sector) and resource mobilization;
- Demonstrated capacity in horizon scanning;
- Proven professional knowledge and experience in at least one of the following: Future thinking and Foresight, research, and Systems Mapping;
- Key awareness of key global and regional trends;
- Demonstrated access to networks of edge innovators
- Proficiency in written and spoken English and siSwati
The Accelerator Labs will be comprised of a core team with niche capabilities around that focus on exploration, experimentation and ethnography. As such the Accelerator Lab team will report directly to the UNDP Resident Representative/Deputy Resident Representative. Within the first 6-8 months of the Lab fully functioning, the core team will be expected to double up on the functional roles and in consultation with the UNDP Country Office, manage operations and scale innovations into the UNDP Country Office, story-telling and communications, and interface with the broader Accelerator Lab network. Accelerator lab capabilities will cover:
Experimentation (instituting rapid learning about emerging challenges through design and running of a portfolio of experiments that is coherent with the type of challenges UNDP COs are mandated to address), 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.
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