We helped the Humanitarian Innovation Fund translate research into actionable next steps for the humanitarian sector.
Research often leads to piles of information that are hard to act on. If you write this information up without synthesising and communicating it effectively, you will end up with an ineffective report. Because of this, we focus intensively on synthesis and communication in all of our work.
We recently did this kind of synthesis work for Elrha’s Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF). They support organisations developing innovations in humanitarian assistance and they’ve noticed that it's often difficult to scale these innovations. They wanted to write a report to help the humanitarian sector understand why scaling is difficult and take action to enable it. We helped them translate their experience and research findings into a set of clear and actionable challenges for the humanitarian sector.
Today we’ve launched our ‘Too tough to scale?’ report. Our report identifies the key barriers to scaling #humanitarian #innovations and calls for specific action to create transformative change. Read it! 👉 http://bit.ly/tootoughtoscale @DutchMFA @DFID_UK #tootoughtoscale— The HIF (@The_HIF) October 17, 2018
Using challenges to structure thinking
We structured the report around challenges because they are a good way to stimulate action. Challenges are brief statements of a problem, the reasons for the problem, and how it might be solved. They help the reader quickly understand the situation and provide focus for a community of practitioners.
We based our challenges on research that had identified barriers to scale and recommendations for the sector. This research drew on the HIF’s experience in helping innovators scale their projects and on research carried out by Spring Impact, who are experts in scaling social innovation. We analysed this research and proposed a set of challenges and a structure for the report that we refined with the HIF team.
Five key challenges stood out:
We developed the following structure to describe each challenge:
This structure gives humanitarian actors an understanding of the challenge, provides detail on what’s causing it, and gets them thinking about how they can solve it.
Opening up conversations
It might seem trivial, but something as simple as how research or insights are framed can shape the kind of conversations they enable. Identifying limitations and barriers is important, but advancing informed proposals on what needs to happen to address them can generate much more meaningful conversations.
This report represented an opportunity for the HIF to reflect on their work and consolidate their position as a leader in humanitarian innovation. By articulating concrete challenges and next steps for the sector, they now have a valuable tool they can use to work with stakeholders to unlock the systemic change needed to help innovations to scale.
To learn more about Too tough to scale? Challenges to scaling innovation in the humanitarian sector read the full report here.