New GovLab Resource: R-Search – Rapid Re-Search Enabling the Design of Agile and Creative Responses to Problems

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How to quickly, yet systematically, become smart about a topic when seeking solutions to public problems? What questions to answer that can help assess the problem and solutions space better? How to identify rapidly the stakeholders that matter? Today, the GovLab released a new resource seeking to enable problem-solvers to design agile and creative responses to public challenges based upon research and due diligence.

The “R-Search” rapid research methodology encompasses two central components that, when leveraged, can enable researchers to develop, iterate and implement evidence-based solutions to public problems:

  •   Getting smart quickly on a topic by:
    • developing a clear and detailed understanding of the problem and solution area;
    • identifying actors at play in the problem and solution space; and
    • understanding the larger context in which the problem and potential solutions exist.
  • Staying in the know regarding new developments in the problem and solution space.

R-Search, consistent with the GovLab’s action research approach, is not premised on the belief that static, in-the-lab research should get in the way of real-world problem-solving. Rather, the R-Search approach is built around the notion that:

  • Seemingly intractable problems require agile and creative responses; and
  • Meaningful and agile creativity can only arise when there is a rapid understanding of the topic at hand.

R-Search, therefore, seeks to:

  • enable the development of a MAP (a topic’s Milieu, relevant Actors and existing Problem space) of issues, scholarship, actions and opinions surrounding a topic to allow for the design of responses that are more informed and targeted;
  • allow for the development of a baseline against which progress can be measured;
  • enable the completion of a project canvas to guide development, implementation and assessment; and
  • provide for knowledge-building to inform rapid prototyping.

View the full resource here.

One Response to “New GovLab Resource: R-Search – Rapid Re-Search Enabling the Design of Agile and Creative Responses to Problems”

  1. Claudia Juech January 15, 2015 at 6:33 pm #

    GovLab’s R-Search for rapid assessment of problem and solution spaces is quite similar to the approach taken at the Rockefeller Foundation. We live in a world of increasing complexity where problems and solutions are multidimensional and dynamic. We have tried to respond to this challenge by developing processes that are agile and creative to quickly and effectively understand the context and where we might contribute to the solution. Often we aim to turn a problem on its head—to look at it in a new way, and think about where there is currently momentum that could be further catalyzed to address it. For example when considering the looming challenge of feeding a global population of 9 billion by 2050, we looked at the ecosystems and livelihoods losses related to food spoilage and have since launched an initiative in this
    area to support market-led interventions focused on smallholder farmers in Africa. Much of the research that we have developed with partners over the past few years is available on our website: The MAP framing is similar to what we do to gather the baseline of evidence that serves to quickly ground us in an issue and help us identify a new opportunity for the Rockefeller Foundation to take action. In the last three years this has been a flexible methodology that has seen strong results—I am encouraged and excited to see GovLab’s similar approach take shape.

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