source:Innovation at UNDP: changing ourselves, asking a different type of questions | by UNDP Innovation | Oct, 2020 | Medium
Innovation at UNDP: changing ourselves, asking a different type of questions
Seriously… “strategic” innovation?
So yes, the rumor is true: UNDP recently set up a Strategic Innovation Unit. And yes, we know what you are thinking…
We explained part of the rationale behind this new chapter in our innovation journey in a previous post. The emergence of the need for a renewed focus on strategy at this particular juncture is perhaps better understood (with another nod to Yuen Yuen Ang!) as a result of co-evolution. In the last couple of years, UNDP launched a number of bold initiatives in the innovation space, such as the Accelerator Labs (which recently grew to 90 globally) and the Digital Strategy, aimed at “splicing digital into UNDP’s corporate DNA”. And this on top of a number of ongoing activities at the corporate and the regional level: from digital finance toNextGenGov Asia, from the “deep demonstrations” to Boost (just to name a few).
More importantly, the external context has also changed significantly. The COVID crisis has deepened pre-existing structural inequalities, bringing skeptics to question whether the SDGs framework is still relevant or indeed achievable. Against this backdrop, being able to demonstrate that a different mode of innovation is possible — a mode that is transformational, can dramatically change trajectories and embraces uncertainty — has acquired a new sense of urgency.
The shifting ground around us, a different type of demand from our counterparts and the availability of new organisational assets has gradually shifted the needle for UNDP, creating a new awareness of the potential of innovation for development but also generating important questions as to how those assets can be leveraged in a more systematic, transformational way. After all, as Rowan Conway reminded us, fast is not a direction.
Perhaps one way of visualizing the current organizational zeitgeist is through the Steinberg’s funnel