How I fell in Love with Kolba Lab as a Model of In-house Innovation Eco-system in UNDP

Ibis Hotel lobby wall, Yerevan, January 2017

The latest discourse around change in UNDP states that itoften starts with a few dedicated, passionate individuals who are driven to have greater impact” though their activities are predominantly confined to the domain of a weekend sport (something that project managers [are] doing in their spare time and in spite of the system)”. While top down interventions abound to drive innovation and empower change makers, what if we shifted the focus from individuals to ecosystem that supports them on the ground as…


I noticed a new grocery store next to our office recently. The owner invited me in and explained: “we’ve moved from the street nearby, but it’s not just me selling vegetables and fruits, here’s a cheese vendor who joined from the other street corner, and a butcher from the shop next door, and soon we’ll get home-made stuff, all in one place, sort of a mini one-stop-shop, just like our Public Service Hall”.

For those who are not familiar with the Georgian Public Service Hall — it is often compared to Disney Land by visiting public service innovators, fascinated by…


Reverse engineering, as explained by my 12-year-old son, is tracing backwards the evolution of a product to find out how it works to use this knowledge for making something new. “It’s elementary”, he said, “but I don’t like using others’ ideas, I like doing everything myself, from the scratch.” This is where my 12-year-old and public sector organisations seem to overlap, unlike private sector.

“The first thing that Samsung did when the iPhone came out was to put together a team devoted to reverse engineer it. Why don’t we see much more of that in the public sector?”


Giving voice to people is what I like the most about my work in UNDP. Sometimes it simply means finding less time-and-cost-intensive means of engaging with a particular group of people (usually overlooked by traditional assessments) and recording what they have to say about a specific subject of interest. Luckily, we had yet another chance to experiment together with the Innovation Service Lab in the Government of Georgia and Georgian Environmental Outlook (GEO), an NGO conducting capacity assessment of government institutions engaged in the implementation of the newly adopted Waste Management Code in the country within the framework of UNDP…

Khatuna Sandroshvili

17 years in development, UNDP, public service innovation, data, micro-narratives, labs, user-centered design, writing unabridged— all views personal

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