Head of Solutions Mapping, UNDP Accelerator Lab in Belarus
The UNDP Strategic Plan 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 UNDP Accelerator Lab Network which operates as part of UNDP’s sustainable development offering.
We are building the largest and fastest learning global network on development challenges. We have already set up 92 labs in 116 countries embedded within UNDP’s global architecture and country platforms. We use the power of the crowd, machine learning and distributed decision making to support partners to understand problems, develop new solutions, promote more inclusive decision making, and provide better oversight of what is done. We identify grassroots solutions and stretch their potential to accelerate development. We apply experimentation closely with government partners to grow this as a mode of operating to reduce costs of large-scale public sector reforms. Experimentation helps us learn whether particular assumptions are accurate before deploying solutions at scale, especially in the rapidly evolving contexts that often dominate development progress.
You are excited about starting, designing 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, a natural strategic thinker and a talented do-er. 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.
The Accelerator Labs will be comprised of a core team with niche capabilities that focus on exploration, experimentation and grassroots innovation. 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
- Mapping Solutions: ethnographic methods and 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 and connects local dynamics and solutions 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.
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 Accelerator 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 bottom up solutions, lead users and grassroots innovations related to sustainable development
- Convene a broad range of new partners with UNDP including artists, community organizers and emergent movements to explore areas for collaboration on sustainable development
- Proactively manage risks with using ethnograpic tools and methods, including those related to ethics and privacy
Convene the processes of solution intake, assessment and designing prototypes for diffusion
- Design and implement methods for sensing and building on indigenous knowledge and local solutions, consolidating, screening and describing incoming
- Design criteria for consolidating incoming local solutions
- Conduct field research to determine best methods fo making solutions transferable, design methods to test and stretch ideas for their applicability and diffusion as part of a portfolio approach.
- 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 those that they don’t address, therefore creating insights on the gaps)
- Design ‘things and tools’ needed to successful scale indigenous knowledge, lead user solutions, turning its insights into systemic change.
- 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.
- Design methods for integrating collective intellengence into UNDP programmes and engage with programme and project managers to translate ideas into concrete practice
Working out loud
- 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
- 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
- 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.
Advocacy, Organizational learning and interface with the core business of UNDP
- Help embed solutions mapping and lead user methodology within the CO portfolio, design and provide trainings that include various methodologies and steps to identify and work with lead users
- 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;
- Develop communication and other tools to transform field research into actionaable intelligence
- Work together with your Accelerator Lab colleagues and experts to codify and advance the Accelerator Lab practice and solutions mapping in particular.
- Lead other activities related to the design and operations of the Accelerator Lab
- Design and deliver engaging and meaningful methods for reflection on learning from field research and grassroots innovation.
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
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
Required Skills and Experience
Master’s degree in Anthropology, Sociology, Behavioral psychology, Design, Architecture, 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, Architecture, 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 unusual 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, Systems Thinking, Behavioral Insights, Co-creation, Qualitative and Quantitative User Research, Positive Deviance, Community Asset Mapping, Service Design 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 Russian and English.
Important applicant information
All posts in the GS categories are subject to local recruitment.
Applicant information about UNDP rosters
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