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Adapting and adopting new ideas in the field

Michelle Risinger
Innovations Officer, Pact
Using the tools in Pact’s South Africa country office.


Pact is an international non-profit helping millions of poor and marginalised people to take ownership over their future by discovering and building their own solutions. A core aspect of that work is strengthening our own organisational capacity to adapt and adopt new ideas.



We needed to pilot trainings in our country offices that would raise awareness about our innovation and asset creation (making products) initiatives.


We wanted to make the experience interactive and tangible by generating ideas and tech-based solutions to both micro and macro field-level problems specific to each country. The chosen pilot country offices were Nigeria and South Africa.


When designing the workshops, we encountered a lack of ready-to-use practical tools for facilitating ideas generation sessions. Our existing Pact tools and templates required too much advance preparation for the short timeframe we had, so we needed off-the-shelf tools that were easy to understand and apply.


Why we used the tools

We used the Value Mapping and Fast Idea Generator tools as prompting guidelines to align different people’s agendas and inject new ways of thinking to find solutions.


How we used the tools

We adopted the following structure for the workshops:

  • In advance of the workshops, we crowdsourced prompts and ideas from the participants to be able to address pertinent issues on the day.
  • We opened each morning and afternoon session with a condensed 20-minute presentation explaining Pact’s initiatives around innovation and asset creation, and then moved onto the relevant exercises. The goal was to stay light on information and presentations and focus on hands-on idea generation.



  • In the morning sessions we focused on macro-level problems affecting each country office – for instance, issues around funding mechanisms, collaboration with local partners and project management.
  • The Value Mapping tool was used to crowdsource one major issue that was then put towards the Fast Idea Generator for brainstorming. Each small group completed the Fast Idea Generator and chose their top three ideas to contribute to a group worksheet. Once the contributions were on the group worksheet, the participants each voted for their top idea.



  • The afternoon sessions focused on micro-level field problems: Can we design a new product that would solve a field–based programming issue?
  • We asked participants to come up with ideas that pushed their thinking to the extreme. We encouraged them to think without constraints about their dream product solutions.
  • Following that exercise, we asked them to revise their products based on their viability.
  • With that minimum viable product, each participant gave a sales pitch to the rest of the group.
  • As a group, the participants then voted on the top idea to take forward.


Workshoping in Nigeria.
Workshopping in Nigeria.

Results of using the tools

Both country offices have now developed a priority set of ideas and questions that serve as inspiration points to progress. Examples of the macro-level ideas from the morning session included:



  1. What if Pact made a profit from consultancy services?
  2. What if Pact adopted an in-kind funding practice with communities, community-based organisations (CBOs), government, or the private sector etc?
  3. What if the Nigerian government began to fund Pact?


South Africa (Five due to a three-way tie)

  1. What if Pact adopted more of a franchise model than a project-based model?
  2. What if Pact customised its services to specific needs?
  3. What if Pact became a leader as a creative, high-quality marketplace for local expertise?
  4. What if Pact became a for-profit/consulting firm?
  5. What if Pact offered a menu of services and became a centre for local organisations to build capacity and strengthen systems?



  • It was valuable to have a preparatory day in advance of each workshop to speak to key stakeholders and get a sense of the environment to frame the workshops at the right level.
  • It was important to wrap up and capture the ideas generation session with an action planning exercise. The Critical Tasks List is a good template to turn ideas into practical next steps.
  • We found that the Fast Idea Generator worked better in South Africa, likely because we gave them a few examples in the template so that participants could more easily interpret the meaning of the nine different perspectives.

Share your experience

Latest User Experience

  1. Salisu Mohammed

    Pact Nigeria

    We have gone ahead to put some of these ideas into the Mosaic for wider reference, and conversations are on-going in there