Complex development issues bring challenges calling for innovative solutions that address systemic problems and change how we work. The accelerator labs are part of a new way of working for UNDP and bring innovation into how we identify, understand, and solve challenges. In turn, we can be innovative in applying collective intelligence, unusual data sourcing and portfolio thinking into project design, implementation, and monitoring.  

UNDP Ethiopia recognises the need for finding new ways of approaching the dynamic challenges facing the country. It also acknowledges the responsibility we all carry in helping the country achieve sustainable development. In doing so, we would be creating open, innovative, networked, and collaborative programmes anchored on a portfolio approach to inclusive economic growth, climate resilience and democratic governance. 

Nevertheless, what we have learnt is that changing the way we work is easier said than done. We would need to see a culture change and a shift in mindsets. This change would actively promote a culture that builds on a shared vision for our work and for the results we seek to achieve together. As we are setting out to achieve this new way of working, the accelerator lab wants to bring its expertise and experience to build a learning organisation that is more innovative, networked and forward-looking. 

So, we are designing a self-exploratory plan on how we create, exchange, and use knowledge internally as a basis for identifying solutions that can help bring more collaboration and innovation. Here is what we are setting out to learn.  

What is it, and what is it not?

Innovation and collaboration have become buzzwords that mean a range of different things depending on who talks to you. We often talk about it but do not usually follow up with action, maybe because we might not always know what it looks like in action. It is common in Ethiopia to think of innovation only for tech solutions, yet technology is a means and not the end. Therefore, we want to clearly define what these concepts of open, innovative, networked, and collaboration mean for us, what they are not, and what they should look like in action.

We plan to hold a series of exercises with team leaders, portfolio managers and senior management, where we will use scenario planning, desired futures, and backstabbing. We want to know how they envision their teams working this new way, what needs to change about the way we work now and what needs to stay. This exercise will help us identify pathways to reach a more innovative and collaborative working environment.

Scanning the trend

The creation, exchange, and usage of knowledge play a crucial role in innovation. The knowledge-sharing culture in an organization, the way an organization creates space for the free exchange of knowledge and experience, drives how the organization collaborates and opens a space for innovation. Therefore, we want to explore the intersection between our organizational culture and internal knowledge sharing. Knowledge includes how it is shared, and who it shares it, and how this practice works for or against the new working environment we are building.

To do this, we will engage the staff in a behavioural insight exercise on how they create, share, and use knowledge while at the same time extracting the perception of the value of knowledge. We will also be looking at additional data sources like the general staff survey and experience in knowledge sharing to get the border picture of the practice.

What is next?

Based on the actionable insights generated through these activities, we will work with targeted teams to experiment with solutions and how to create more spaces for learning from each other, collaborate and innovate together. We want to take these insights to create and share knowledge on how we can develop innovative and collaborative working environments.

We will be sharing our findings and what we learned in the next blog, but we would love to hear your comments and suggestion, so feel free to reach out on social media or at ethiopia.acclab@undp.org

 

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