Understanding the Accelerator Labs, our Roles and the Bootcamp!

October 30, 2020

UNDP Guinea-Bissau Accelerator Lab team

From reading the Accelerator Lab manuals, to taking part in Q&A sessions via Zoom to applying for the positions and getting offers. It has been a long and exciting journey, accelerated from the very beginning!

Due to COVID-19, the onboarding of the Guinea-Bissau Accelerator Lab has been more challenging than usual. The various restrictions in place has meant the team has had to work remotely to jumpstart the lab and not lose the momentum in the face of current world events.

Understanding the role of the Accelerator Labs in a practical manner

Although the role of the Accelerator Labs has been repeated times without number, it can still be a difficult concept to grasp, and indeed the theory is much different than practice. Tjark Egenhoff, the Guinea-Bissau Resident Representative, presented a challenge to the Accelerator Lab team in their first week, with an underlying message concealed. The AccLab team took to the drawing board to decipher ways in which the challenge could be solved in an accelerated manner, returning with a draft to present back to Tjark. Once presented, the AccLab team quickly became aware of the underlying message Tjark was sending them, “no solution can be presented without first consulting with the end user” – which is what the AccLabs are all about! With that being said, the role of the AccLabs is to propose solutions informed by data, experimentation and the irreplaceable experience of those who deal with the problems every day.

Head of Exploration, Head of Experimentation and Head of Solutions Mapping – who does what, when and where?

The head of exploration, solutions mapping and experimentation are all very specific jobs – when looking at the role descriptions it is very easy to assume who will be responsible for the execution of particular tasks, with a very theoretical understanding. However, separating tasks is not as simple in practice. In face of challenges, the roles overlap constantly, no one person can deal with a single issue without the input of another team member. The earlier this is understood the simpler it will be to organize and develop action plans for tackling local problems. For instance, the Solution Mapper cannot map solutions without input from the Explorer, who will identify what are reoccurring themes in a particular community and ways in which these have been tackled in the past. Conversely, the Experimenter cannot first consult with the Solution Mapper before they experiment possible solutions to be mapped. This is to say, no one team member can exist without the other, it is a single body, different organs, but all important for keeping the AccLab alive!

The virtual Bootcamp!

The Guinea-Bissau AccLab has been attending the online AccLab bootcamp for the last four weeks, every Monday-Thursday from 11AM-1:30PM (GMT) in which they take part in a series of: talks, breakout sessions, collaborative workshop contributions, global calls and Q&A’s with the first AccLab cohort to understand the nature of their work and contexts. The aim of the bootcamp is to give a sense of how the new roles can be executed, what different tools and methods that are available, what other Labs are focusing on and how they are planning to tackle their frontier challenges in innovative ways. The onboarding of the Guinea-Bissau AccLab started dynamic with many inspiring encounters and insights along the way, and even with virtual meetings, the team looks forward to the return to the office soon!