Navigating the unprecedented, taking responsibility for the uncertain — designing a new playbook for UNDP’s Region in Latin America and the Caribbean (RBLAC)

Image credit: How companies adapt during times of political uncertainty, HBR blog post
Global Uncertainty Around Related to Coronavirus at a Record High, the IMF Blog

Designing a new playbook

How can we overcome the challenge of distilling timely information to inform decisions during unprecedented uncertainty? COVID-like events not only shape a different type of demand (what do you do when you dont know what to do) but more importantly ‘preconfigure alternative mindsets and practices’ that create the space for new offers and renewal. Might this point to a role that development organizations like UNDP can play — design and deploy new institutional structures to better deal with uncertainty? The most recent Brookings Institute study indicates that World Bank’s advisory and analytical services ($200m a year) has outsized influence on Governments’ policies relative to its lending services ($30b a year), pointing to the fact that in times of uncertainty organization will compete on the rate of learning more than anything else.

The path from crisis, RSA blog post
For stories of bold policy moves in face of COVID, check out UNDP’s Innovation Dividend Podcast

UNDP in RBLAC: building new capabilities for dealing with the uncertainty

We need to balance the need to acquire some of these new capabilities to manage uncertainty fast, with the efforts to develop them internally even though that might take more time. In this sense, we think of these external efforts and learning as a way to broaden the diversity of our partnership and innovation portfolios and in no way a substitute for internal innovation — outsourcing this core capability, as the response to COVID shows, spells out trouble.

Spatial representation of system dynamics in a city: work in progress in UNDP Bolivia
Adapted from Roger Martin’s Knowledge Funnel
Bike lanes in Bogotá by Dylan Passmore licensed under Creative Commons.
WFP blog post, Teachers in Honduras help deliver warm meals to kids who are learning from home

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