An inward break: many forms of innovation are happening every day in our vibrant country office and across our programmes. Communities at the grassroots are constantly inventing their own solutions. Most of the time, their innovations are not disclosed nor scaled nor patented. Consequently, they don’t make it to the glossary(ies) of innovations. As a learning network, we need to capture those opportunities, re-package them, and give them room to grow.
An outward break: we take pride in being a global network with 92 UNDP Accelerator Labs around the world, learning together and building something significant to share with the development world. We are branching out, designing new tools, and capturing hidden signals of change. But no amount of knowledge would matter if we are not able to share and disseminate what we capture. Sooner rather than later, we should find the right language to talk our walk before asking others to walk that talk.
Starting at the center of a possible ripple
With UNDP’s outreach, the voice of change gets better chances. Sitting at the heart of UNDP helps to make acceleration ambition more attainable. This makes the Accelerator lab’s integration with the rest of the country office team indispensable. Finding one common language can help us avoid both inward and outward communication breaks. If we manage to streamline acceleration and innovation discourse among ourselves, we can accelerate UNDP’s role as an integrator for sustainable development and accelerate progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
1. Speak relevance
UNDP Egypt is one of the most vibrant and busy country offices in the region. We have award-winning projects that contribute to market transformations. With an existing dynamic programming, we need to advocate early on what solutions mapping, portfolio thinking, and other exciting approaches mean to climate resilience, women’s empowerment, inclusive development, etc. We train ourselves to move from pitching shiny but abstract concepts into tangible and relevant game-changing solutions.
2. Show don’t tell
Most people would be reluctant to travel into newly discovered territories before hearing people’s stories who have just been there. Existing examples or “use cases” are sort of a guidebook to innovative approaches. For newly launching Accelerator Labs, this can mean starting with stories from our global network. Instead of talking about collective intelligence and system thinking, we can show how Ukraine is collectively crowdsourcing solutions for the tradition of using fire to clear land for agriculture through behavioral change and how Pakistan is creating a circular system for managing its plastic waste. Sooner than later, our own learning portfolio will have similar approaches as we move forward with the exploring and experimenting journey.
3. Connect .. communicate .. repeat
We are wired to be fast, but we cannot expect everyone to jump into the same pace from day one. After our first Accelerator lab presentation, we realized that it would take us at least a few other assemblies to get our message through and for everyone to get onboard. This is absolutely normal; we went through an intensified onboarding process to be ready for acceleration. Since then, we talk about it and breathe it every day. So, we need to say it, re-say it, and then say it one more time.
We believe in our role in sparking the development discourse, bringing in global practices, and disrupting traditional ways of doing things whenever needed. But we are also on a mission to make innovation more inclusive.
We say let’s start by removing the language barrier and getting everyone into the innovation conversation. What else can we do today to truly endorse innovation?