Getting to Yes

A really nice piece by Steve Blank about dealing with the friction between “innovation” and “corporate”:

Getting to Yes for Corporate Innovation

The problem:

A massive (+5,000 employees) corporation have set up a corporate incubator for horizon 3 innovations.  Despite executive support (including the CEO) the innovation team kept running into organization roadblocks, primarily in the form of policy constraints and lack of cooperation from corporate functions (HR, Legal, Finance, etc.).

The solution:

  • Every innovation team that wanted a policy/procedure changes can submit a “Getting to Yes” 1-pager to the department that owns the policy/procedure, outlining the requested change, the rationale and impact/risks to the core business.
  • The department has one week to ask questions, gather information and meet with the innovation team.
  • The department then could either approve / propose changes that the innovation team agreed with, or reject the proposal.
  • Rejected proposal were automatically escalated to the Chief Innovation Officer either overrule or ratify them.

What’s awesome about this solution:

  • The innovation teams are the ones proposing the new process, procedure, metric, etc. – they can’t just complain/argue that it’s someone else’s problem
  • There is a hard 1-week response time for the relevant department
  • “Yes” is the default answer, “No” required a detailed explanation
  • Appeals went straight to the Chief Innovation Officer to be acted on the next week. If no agreement was found it became a management team issue.

What’s really compelling about this approach, in my mind, that it can be applied beyond the realm of innovation. Everyone should be able to take part in continuous improvement of policies and processes, not just the departments who own them.


Getting to Yes

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