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 several 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 60 labs in 78 countries) embedded within UNDP’s global architecture and country platforms. We are now recruiting for a second cohort of 30 labs to be based in UNDP around the world. 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 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 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, 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:
- 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 sense making 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.
Primary functions/accountabilities of the position:
- Horizon scanning and intelligence for the Accelerator Lab.
- Tapping into new data sources.
- Working out loud.
- Organizational learning and interface with the core business of UNDP.
Horizon scanning and intelligence for the 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;
- 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 sense-making 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;
- Provide technical guidance for horizon scanning, foresight and data analysis for colleagues and partners;
- 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.
- Set up partnerships with private sector companies including mobile network operators among others to gain access to anonymized data sets that can be used for sustainable development;
- Demonstrate through exploratory tests the utility of new data sources for UNDP’s development work;
- Create partnerships for analyses of real time and other data to better inform decisions and policies;
- Design and deliver workshops, tools, or platforms that tap into the collective intelligence of communities and mobilize action;
- Transform unstructured data sets into insights for UNDP and partners;
- Proactively manage risks with using data and technology, including those related to ethics and privacy.
- Share findings from the exploration on future trends, new methodologies/approaches, potential partnership, 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;
- Liaise with UNDP’s global Accelerator Lab network and 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.
- Set up tools and partnerships to transform information into actionable intelligence;
- 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;
- Work together with your Accelerator Lab colleagues and experts to codify and advance the Accelerator Lab practice and exploration in particular;
- Organize and implement knowledge sharing and network events;
- 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 explorations.
- Achieve Results: LEVEL 2: Scale up solutions and simplifies processes, balances speed and accuracy in doing work.
- Think Innovatively: LEVEL 2: Offer new ideas/open to new approaches, demonstrate systemic/integrated thinking.
- Learn Continuously: LEVEL 2: Go outside comfort zone, learn from others and support their learning.
- Adapt with Agility: LEVEL 2: Adapt processes/approaches to new situations, involve others in change process.
- Act with Determination: LEVEL 2: Able to persevere and deal with multiple sources of pressure simultaneously.
- Engage and Partner: LEVEL 2: Is facilitator/integrator, bring people together, build and/or /maintain coalitions/partnership.
- Enable Diversity and Inclusion: LEVEL 2: Facilitate conversations to bridge differences, considers in decision making.
Business Direction & Strategy : Business Direction & Strategy
- Ability to develop effectiveness strategies and prioritized plans in line with UNDP’s objectives, based on the systemic analysis of challenges, potential risks, and opportunities, linking the vision to reality on the ground, and creating tangible solutions.
- Ability to leverage learning from a variety of sources to anticipate and respond to future trends; to demonstrate foresight in order to model what future developments and possible ways forward look like for UNDP.
Business Direction & Strategy
- System Thinking: Ability to use objective problem analysis and judgement to understand how interrelated elements coexist within an overall process or system, and to consider how altering one element can impact on other parts of the system.
Digital & Innovation
Digital business analysis: Ability to support digital business processes across a range of digital projects, programmes and activities.
Digital & Innovation : Creative facilitation
- Ability to design workshops that considers and addresses multiple interests, agendas, worldviews; set out clear objectives and engaging activities; select appropriate tools, materials, resources that are needed to enable or support the activities.
- Ability to swiftly build rapport with participants and create a safe space (on- and offline) where they feel comfortable to share their views, concerns, experiences and reflections; supporting this with a range of tools to stimulate active participation.
- Ability to facilitate inclusive conversations, ability to work with a diverse set of people with different backgrounds, seniority and expert levels, using different approaches tailored to fit the people in the room, drawing out the perspectives and ideas of each individual and making decisions through deliberation and discussion across a group.
- Ability to pace a session, adjust to the abilities and energy levels of attendees and the nature or purpose of an exercise. Being flexible and able to improvise, adapting and changing approaches in response to the needs, while staying true to the intent and objectives of the session.
Digital & Innovation : Visualization & mapping
- Ability to visualize and clarify ideas, processes or (complex) situations by making quick sketches, drawings or using diagrams, illustrations, photos, videos, animations, three dimensional mock-ups to support group dialogues, reflection, idealization, problem solving or decision making.
- Using abstraction, analogical and metaphorical thinking to create compelling visuals, maps, models or embodied thinking that provide new perspectives and help a group of disparate actors to find a common language and develop a shared mental model.
- Ability to quickly grasp the dynamics of a complex system, identify key elements, entities and their relations, create maps or models that help people inside the system, or outsiders, understand its dynamics; being able to swiftly make sense of an undifferentiated mass of information, extract its very essence, and turn that into key messages and visualizations.
- Master’s degree in Social Sciences, Data Science, Statistics, Physics, Computer Science, Business Intelligence, or other related fields.
- Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field with additional two years of qualifying experience will be given due consideration in lieu of the advanced university degree.
- Minimum two years (with Master’s degree) or four years (with Bachelor’s degree) of professional experience in development programming or policy; social innovation; partnership building; engagement (public and private sector) and/or resource mobilization;
- Demonstrated capacity in horizon scanning;
- Demonstrated capacity in data analysis and visualization.
Desired additional skills:
- Proven professional knowledge and experience in social innovation approaches such as Systems Thinking, Ethnography, Crowdsourcing, Collective Intelligence Design, Citizen Science, Positive Deviance, Social Network Analysis, Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning;
- Demonstrated capacity to use open data, mobile data, geospatial data, drone & satellite data, citizen data for informing policy making, strategic planning, or programme design;
- Proven professional knowledge and experience in at least one of the following: Future thinking and Foresight, Design 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.
Applicant information about UNDP rosters
Note: UNDP reserves the right to select one or more candidates from this vacancy announcement. We may also retain applications and consider candidates applying to this post for other similar positions with UNDP at the same grade level and with similar job description, experience and educational requirements.
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