Improving Innovation Decision Making

A New Approach to Identifying, Evaluating, and Selecting Innovations for Leaders in Agriculture, Health and Other Critical Sectors

How might we enhance organizations’ ability to make innovation decisions?


Getting from challenge to impact is almost always a story of innovation: taking what is known and available, and daring to act differently to achieve positive change.  Migrating from challenge to impact through innovation isn’t a linear, easy journey.  It’s often messy, confusing, and characterized by moments of success followed by failures.  More times than not, this journey requires practitioners to make a series of tough decisions, often with insufficient information and amidst complex factors.  It is the sum of these decisions ­— where we source creative ideas, how we weigh our options, who we engage in the process — that ultimately determines whether and how we achieve our intended outcomes.  Learning to effectively navigate the journey is an imperative for practitioners seeking to develop relevant solutions for complex, global challenges.  Like many partners of GKI, for AGRA (an African-led Agriculture Alliance), improving innovation decision making serves as a key enabler for achieving ambitious goals.  In AGRA’s case, those goals include demonstrating a 50% reduction of post harvest food loss in Tanzania.


Working in close collaboration with AGRA through our work as the Innovation Partner on the Yieldwise Initiative, GKI developed resources and approaches aimed at helping program managers, staff and partners more easily generate insights, reframe challenges, develop and test new ideas, and determine a course of action, while contending system dynamics.  In 2016, we created an innovation decision-making framework that makes key decision points along the innovation journey more explicit.  We also developed GKI’s Improved Innovation Decision Making Toolset to support decision makers as they make choices along their innovation journey.

It is my sincere belief that collaborative innovation will go a long way towards consolidating collaborative advantage of this country and hopefully the consequential competitiveness of Tanzania and the region.
– Peter Chisawillo, Tanzania Course Participant

To help guide practitioners in determining what approaches and tools to take up, GKI also constructed an Innovation Culture Assessment that helps people benchmark their organization’s openness and aptitude for innovation.  Taken together, these resources help partners cultivate an innovator’s mindset, better understand the systems in which they operate, and more effectively generate and evaluate innovative ideas.  A 2017 rollout of our improved innovation decision making support package is occurring in Africa and Asia through a number of GKI partnerships that will advance long-term adoption of these resources and approaches.


Results / Outcomes


  • Created a framework for improved innovation decision making to help make key decision points in the innovation journey more explicit
  • Developed an innovation decision-making toolset with field-tested resources to support decision-makers as individuals and organizations identify, evaluate, select, and act upon innovation opportunities
  • Conducted in-person and online innovation decision-making workshops and trainings for approximately 215 key actors working in the US and across Tanzania’s post-harvest loss sector to introduce and test the approach among practitioners
  • Invited by AGRA and partners to engage in a multi-month rollout of the innovation toolset within the post-harvest sector of Tanzania through 2017
Photo Credit: Antony Njuguna, The Rockefeller Foundation (KENYA)