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Can the UN embrace Agile Work? i2i Hub publishes report on innovative UN Agile Pilot Project


The Geneva School of Economics and Management’s i2i Hub, in collaboration with the Geneva Innovation Movement Association, compiled an evaluation report of an Agile Teams pilot run by the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance (DMSPC) in New York.

A United Nations (UN) staff survey had highlighted concerns that the key skills of innovation and agility were not being developed, implemented, or sufficiently supported. To address this, staff created the #NewWork initiative, which aimed to work towards a culture that encouraged skill development, and collaboration, and emphasized the importance of agility and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Agile collaborative techniques aim to empower both teams and individuals in a way that balances individual freedom with collective coordination; instill a common purpose, and develop respectful, accountable, and collaborative mindsets. Through a pilot program, these techniques were introduced to four different teams in different duty stations of the UN Secretariat.

Director of the i2i Hub: for Innovation and Intrapreneurship and GSEM Professor Tina Ambos: “There is clear evidence that the UN is ready to embrace agile work. Now scaling the learning from this pilot will require three factors: resources, including time and additional training; senior leadership support; and a new organizational culture which rewards collective and team progress”.

After evaluating this program, the i2i Hub’s findings and proposals were published in a white paper highlighting key objectives such as internal and external collaborations and understanding barriers and overcoming them, as well as key learnings such as staff members being open to new methods of working based on more flexibility, and that agile techniques were able to be utilized by a range of teams, with different cultures and functions.

> Click here to learn more about the report's findings.

May 17, 2021
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