The Rapid Action LAb

A Rapid Action Lab is strategy for quickly achieving coordinated action. It is most useful in situations of fast moving complexity where decisions are urgent and the stakes high.

How Does A Rapid Action Lab Work?

There are three steps in a Rapid Action Lab.

Step One / Convening Key Actors

Between 30 to 40 key stakeholders around an issue are quickly identified and invited to come together for three days.

Step Two / Three Day RAL Workshop

Key actors spend three days together negotiating responses and agreeing a portfolio of 5-6 urgent actions. They are organised into 5-6 sub-teams. Each team has a clear set of actions, an operating agreement and a budget.

Step Three / Agile Action Cycles

After the kick-off each RAL sub-team enters into an agile process that lasts between 1-3 months, depending on the urgency of the issue. They work in iterative cycles implementing their prototypes over the period. 


What Sort of Challenges Are Suited To A Rapid Action Lab?

A RAL is designed to support situations where rapid intervention is necessary.Diverse groups of actors are already embedded and actively intervening, or attempting to intervene in the system. These actors are generally moving or ready to go, but are often siloed and struggle to coordinate actions across organisations and social boundaries — an imperative given the urgency of the situation.

RAL Case: Safer Through Unity

In 2017 United Way of Metro Chicago convened a Rapid Action Lab focused on the question:

How can we work together to support children and families to be safe from violence and deportation in their neighbourhoods?

Over the course of four months, 45 diverse stakeholders worked together to produce ‘projects, programs and social initiatives in order to create safer neighbourhoods for families and their children’.

"The Rapid Action Lab showed us that a diverse group of actors can come together and quickly pull together to implement effective actions in a situation characterised by deep fear and uncertainty."
— Jose Rico / SVP of Community Impact, United Way of Metro Chicago