UNDP Innovation-AccLab Pakistan’s approach in mainstreaming innovation requires us to constantly collaborate and co-design work. We bring stakeholders with projects to the heart of the problem using collective intelligence, systems thinking, ideation and experimentation. Before COVID-19 struck, we would collaborate through workshopping with our partners in person —where we would facilitate our community of problem solvers through a journey of understanding the challenge at hand more holistically — using (many) sticky notes.

Unfortunately, with COVID-19, we cannot be together in person anymore. Our major question was then,

how do we continue to collaborate meaningfully while maintaining physical distance?’’

As we were reshaping our approaches and processes, we knew our solution must allow for collective intelligence, and should be engaging for our partners. This would not be easy to achieve as we would have to go digital – a space filled with constant distraction.  We decided to test Mural which is a digital workspace for visual collaboration whilst communicating over Zoom. Mural allowed us to use digital stickies on a white board which we could move around and collaborate in real-time. 

 

Mapping of stakeholders and initiatives in Hushe Valley for our Social Innovation Platform.

 

We first used Mural to conduct mapping of stakeholders and initiatives in Hushe Valley, as part of the process to setup a Social Innovation Platform with colleagues in Gilgit Baltistan and Agirre Lehendakaria Center (ALC) in Spain. We were delighted to find our participants very engaged in the process. During online group discussions, it is very easy to get distracted with constant notifications of emails on our computers. Not to mention, digital exhaustion of paying attention to the screen. We observed that by giving space for individual reflection and using stickys to communicate with them, created engagement and increased focus on the task at hand. 

 

Unpacking of Future of Work Portfolio of Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP) to streamline gaps, initiatives, and opportunities.

 

We found this approach to be extremely useful in exploring how to develop a vision of a portfolio around new areas of work in a short period of time. When our Youth Empowerment team came to us to explore how to develop new programming around Future of Work, we turned to Mural again. This time, we created simple templates that included prompts such as gaps, opportunities, challenges and a vision statement. Teams responded by writing on post-its under each prompt.  These exercises were only an hour long and conducted over two to three sessions.  Because this is a visual template, everyone on the project could quickly see the emerging patterns.  There was a clear picture of the system, missing gaps and a way forward in designing the portfolio.

The strength of this approach is that we are able to use collective intelligence of our participants and direct it to visualizing a portfolio in a very short period of time. It is a rough vision, but it provides direction. There is team buy in as it was a collective reflection. Very quickly, what a traditional proposal process would take many dollars and months to do, we were able to create a framework for action in a couple of one hour sessions, allowing the project to become more strategic in where they invested their  resources and time --- and most importantly, why they were doing so.

 

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