Not another toolkit? Conspiring with UNDP
Perhaps rightly so, development workers are sometimes wary or dismissive of toolkits that are often disconnected from their daily reality.
Development Impact & You isn’t your typical toolkit. We’ve been careful not to add to the noise simply by creating new material and hoping people will use it. Instead we have pulled together a collection of 30 tried and tested innovation tools designed to help people working in development innovate better. Here we have made a first pass at translating the mystical process of innovation specially for that community.
How did we get here?
We’ve spent 12 hard months researching, evaluating and testing hundreds of innovation tools and approaches to find the ones that users told us they think are really useful. We started with 700 and finished with 30. Thirty of the most practical and effective tools that will help people to have more impact in the work they do every day.
We worked with lots of partners around the world, development agencies large and small. Asking people to apply tools to real projects and capturing real feedback and stories. These stories are based on application of the tools to real life challenges that development practitioners face – from Madhya Pradesh to Sao Paulo, we have been able to build a much better understanding about what works and what doesn’t.
UNDP country offices in Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States (ECIS) were integral to this effort. Over the last two years we’ve experimented with a variety of methods to development that were, up until recently, entirely new to the organisation - from gamification to open policymaking, from behavioural science to user-driven innovation, from design thinking to micronarratives and real time monitoring.
In total, we have run over 60 interventions following a prototype portfolio approach, assuming that some high risk experiments will fail while others may lead us to breakthrough, unexpected directions. Colleagues behind these initiatives are not necessarily ‘innovation experts’ but ‘do-ers’ who worry less about innovation and more about solving problems of corruption, wasteful energy use or job opportunities for people with disabilities. The Development Impact & You is another way for them to put citizens’ insights at the centre of problem solving, to bring outside perspectives in, and to move the discussion away from ‘what are your problems’ to ‘what are you already doing to address them’ and help those evolve further.
And it is their continued feedback and iteration that got us where we are with the toolkit today. Moving forward, we’ll continue in the same vein with development chefs rolling their sleeves in five ECIS countries where UNDP works across the range of different contexts - from FYR Macedonia and Armenia using social innovation labs co-owned and led by UNDP to test the toolkit, to Montenegro analysing the kit’s value for alternative methods of project design, to Georgia and Moldova exploring how the kit can strengthen governments’ innovation units.
The focus will be on supporting staff to build the skills, imagination and ability to understand and respond to what is going on around them. To ensure that this isn’t “just another toolkit”, we need to focus on the people, not just the process, and build a body of practice to bring the toolkit to life and ensure it has impact.
We’ll be updating this space with what we learn!