Finding a cure for cancer requires enormous investment. Changing the game with small bets? That’s thinking wrong.

“Simple changes made it clear that you’re not just a cog in the wheel of this great grinding process; you’re an integral part of one of the largest experiments in curing a fatal disease—you’re a part of history.”
—Kathryn Woody, Operations Program Manager, Genentech

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Challenge: A few years ago, biotech firm Genentech believed they’d found a way to trigger the immune system to attack cancer cells. They were eager to get a medicine to market. But clinical trials are costly and complex, and government regulations require strict safety protocols. Plus, there was heavy competition and time pressure from other labs. Genentech needed to get patients and doctors into their clinical trials faster, while meeting stringent regulatory requirements. 

Story: The first step to any trial is an “Investigator Meeting” to educate the doctors, nurses and support staff involved. These meetings are critically important in setting the stage for the success of the trial and the quality of the patient experience. And they’re typically mind-numbingly boring.

Our Genentech Think Wrong Blitz focused on engaging doctors and nurses more effectively, speculation that a better meeting would lead to better outcomes for everyone. We invited folks from across departments, including execs, scientists, and marketers. Only first names—and no titles—were allowed, creating the meritocracy we know leads to stronger, faster, more diverse ideas.

 

Using drills from all six Think Wrong Practices, we helped Genentech conceive a portfolio of small bets that could have big impact. Rather than dragging attendees through endless data and regulations, they’d tell the story behind the medicine: scientists who worked on it, the patients who need it. Using gripping narratives and design, they’d create a larger mission the participants could feel part of. 

They rolled out this strategy just two months later in Atlanta. Instead of a lifeless airport hotel, the meeting was held at the Historic Academy of Medicine. The scientists were coached to present the medicine in compelling ways and an emcee kept things running smoothly, The team turned ‘protocols’ into human stories and capped the meeting with a portrait session so Genentech could later thank everyone who’d helped bring the medicine from lab bench to bedside. 

Results: Genentech repeated these seemingly small changes across the globe. The effect was staggering. Surveys reported the best investigator meeting doctors and nurses had ever attended. Rather than a cog in a wheel, they had become an integral part of a world-wide experiment to cure a fatal disease. 


We serve corporate clients who want to build and strengthen their ability to imagine, incubate, accelerate, and launch new businesses—with their own people.

A selection of clients Future has helped think wrong about operational excellence and growth.

A selection of new venture and organizational design challenges Future has helped our corporate clients think wrong about.

“How might we create the Resource Virtual Marketplace for airlines in a way that compels members to exchange resources—rather than using mutual agreements or not using their existing assets—so that it quickly becomes the principle means airlines use to obtain maximum value from their collected resources?”

“How might the CR Lab use our diverse expertise and skills to generate and deliver big ideas that strengthen Genentech’s reputation and deepen our relationships with the people and communities that matter most?”

“How might the SSALT lead the effort to lay the foundation for sustainable models of healthcare delivery that provide far greater access to Roche diagnostics and treatments for far more patients?”

“How might we help U.S. customers participate in energy markets to unlock the full value of both those markets and those customers?”

“How might we radically transform development opportunities for our people in a way that accelerates learning and integration of new behaviors so that we increase performance, growth and well-being?”

“How might we change the office from a place to be avoided to a place that attracts,engages, and inspires people, businesses, and communities?”


Start small.

Want to speed up the time it takes you to go from idea to insight? Try out Do It On Monday. It’s one our favorite Bet Small Drills.

Let’s talk.

Contact Kim Scales to explore how you might think wrong about your growth and operational challenges and opportunities.