In the State of Palestine, rarely do we experience stable ‘normal’ circumstances. As a matter of fact, we have been conditioned to embrace chaos and survive an unstable environment. Palestinians want decent lives but based on public perception through informal discussions with youth, they have become less concerned with long-term planning given the protracted crisis that rewires the brain to live in survival mode while subconsciously ignoring the big picture. This type of adaptive thinking has emerged as a resiliency mechanism to a highly unstable and complex political situation, and permeates all aspects of our lives, including work plans, daily activities, and strategic planning. While navigating this unstable environment, adapting and maintaining a fluid structure for development in general and for the work of UNDP/PAPP is essential.
Actors contributing to development work, especially related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), try to keep up with ‘global trends,’ whether through focusing on gender equality, innovation, enhancing start-up life, or promoting environmental sustainability; yet for Palestinians, these programmes tend to treat the symptoms rather than the root causes hindering socio-economic change. Sometimes what is needed is to reflect on the current situation in a structured way that lifts us from micro-managing our own work to feel ‘in control.’
Ahead of the Strategic Planning Workshop for UNDP/PAPP, at the Palestinian Accelerator Lab, we have engaged with the different portfolios at the office through running mini-sensemaking workshops. A simplified version of the Global UNDP protocol on Sensemaking and Acceleration was used as a basis for these mini-workshops. The aim was to initiate a discussion between the operational and programmatic staff to reflect on their work and feed into the future direction of the office beyond 2020. The discussions were inclusive of the portfolio managers and the project managers to reflect on the overall objective that links projects under one portfolio, what works, what does not, who are our partners, what gaps ought to be addressed, and the vision for moving forward.
How did we envision these mini-workshops to flow?
We thought we would hold a three-hour discussion with each portfolio, leave with a clear picture of the objectives that are beautifully linked with UNDP/PAPP’s strategy, the Palestinian National Policy Agenda, and the UN Development Assistance Framework. We would then identify niche areas that the Accelerator Lab could take on for testing and scale-up. What we realized is that staff referenced the sensemaking exercise as a first step into digging further to identify future programmes.