Internal Comms Team Challenge


Internal Comms Team Challenge

Why and how might we transform internal communications at Genentech through 2020?


On May 19–20, 2016, the Corporate Relations Internal Communications Team gathered in San Francisco for the Internal Comms Team Blitz. The Blitz was an intensive, immersive effort to Think Wrong about internal communications.


Our objectives

Frame our aspirations and the impact we might have over the next five years.

Seek inspiration to inform our vision of the future of work, internal communications, and the purpose of Genentech Internal Communications.

Imagine the future of Genentech Internal Communications—why it might matter, how it might work, and what it might do.

Bring our vision of the future of Genentech Internal Communications to life so that we can more deeply understand the transformation we might lead.

Identify the biggest questions our vision presents and explore how we might learn the answers to those questions.

Welcome and integrate ideas, insights, and knowledge of our teammates, Internal Communications colleagues, and inspirational outsiders.

Desired outcomes

Internal Communications has a clear vision of the future that we can act on:

  • A clear vision and statement of purpose for Internal Communications
  • A clear picture of why and how we might transform Internal Communications over the next five years
  • A set of big questions that can inform and shape the future of internal communications at Genentech
  • Shared enthusiasm, excitement, and commitment to our vision for internal communications at Genentech

We are aligned on the major elements of the 2017 plan for Internal Communications:

  • We understand the relationship between our vision and Corporate Relations’vision and plan. 
  • We know the big questions about the future of internal communications at Genentech that we want to answer—and what we might need to do to get those answers.
  • We have a vision for our 2017 plan that can help us convince Geoff and Ian of what we might require to achieve it.
  • We understand how our priorities and work support and integrate with the Corporate Relations Plan.


Internal Comms Team Approach

Internal Comms Team Approach

Think Wrong

We thought wrong about the impact that the Corporate Relations Team might achieve over the next three years.


Think Wrong Practices


Dare to make a difference.


Find fresh inspiration.


Expand what’s possible.


Gain insights through making.


Discover what works.


Achieve impact sooner.


Think Wrong Drills

Deflection Point
So That...
It‘s Imperative
Milestone Making


Walk & Talk

Trend Takeover
Outlaw Raid
Brand Takeover

The Big Yes!
Name It


Learn From Investment
Do It on Monday

Matters Most
Moments That Matter
Impact x Doability

Stack It

Waypoints 3-Year Plan


Internal Comms Team Outcomes

Internal Comms Team Outcomes

New insights, sharper focus, better alignment, and greater impact.


The Internal Comms Team had an open and strategic discussion about why we do what we do, how we should go about doing it, and what projects we propose to complete to meet those strategic goals and deliver the most impact for Genentech.



Why: Deliver a meaningful experience to employeesmake them Genentech Proud.

How: We’re going to radically change how we deliver that experience over the next 3.5 years—starting now. This will be done within the CR strategic framework.

What: We will tell compelling stories and create epic experiences better than ever. We have six new epic programs we would like to pursue.



Big Bold

Big Bold What


One Ultimate Objective

Genentech Proud

The core mission of Internal Comms (IC) is to protect and grow Genentech’s and Roche’s ability to do now what patients need next.

We do this by:

  • Engaging with people
  • Telling our story
  • Inspiring belief in our company
  • Governing the Genentech presence

The result: A committed and loyal workforce that is Genentech Proud.

Genentech Proud is how we define our overarching goal for 2017 and beyond.

When employees understand and appreciate what Genentech does—and why—they become more deeply engaged with their work and colleagues. They become ambassadors, inside and outside Genentech, who share and strengthen our focus on Science, People, and Patients.

Pride, in our collective accomplishments and company culture, is a convincing reason to work at Genentech—and a compelling reason to stay.


The Big Bold How

To build the Top Internal Communications Agency, we need to create a New How.

We’re proud of what we’ve done in the past. But the way people communicate and participate has changed rapidly and radically. At the same time, our company structure has shifted, becoming a hub/remote model that requires a new approach.

We call this approach Mobile Mindset.

  • The Mobile Mindset understands and fulfills the needs of remote employees first, knowing that this will lead to more accessibility and inclusiveness.
  • The Mobile Mindset focuses on digital, short-form communications that provide actionable information in compelling ways.
  • The Mobile Mindset creates culture and communication channels with our audience, not just at them.         

Going forward we will have to retool and expand our team’s skill sets and change our mindset in a very fundamental way. This shift will change how we work as individuals, within our team, and with other teams. We will evolve what we produce, as well as for whom, how, and when we produce it.

Short-Form Communication

The human brain is amazing at seeing and understanding information, getting an emotional hit from it (I like that, I feel happy, that’s not good), then searching for more information—all in a matter of seconds.

Communication is trending toward shorter and more ephemeral interactions. Our current content and distribution channels do not reflect this trend.

Moving forward:

We will reconsider the balance between quickly produced content that grabs attention, sparks interest, and is quickly consumed, versus long-form content that gives highly detailed information.

We will work to build our short-form muscles. We will experiment with media and formats—video, imagery, memes, SMS, social—to learn what works within Genentech and what doesn’t, and what we can build ourselves and where we might need to augment our capabilities.

This change will not be easy! Not only does it go against, in many cases, what we’re really good at and have been doing for a long time, but it is also something that is particularly hard to do.

Small Bets

We will design and execute small bets so that we can more quickly understand our communication challenges and learn what works—and what doesn’t.

We will pursue A/B/C testing for channels and content.

Experimentation 2016
Budget ask: $ XXXX

Get Out

The IC Team will pursue and embrace outside opportunities for skill development and leadership.

We will actively seek inspiration and learning from others, not only in how they communicate but in how they work and organize themselves. This objective includes learning from other organizations (Zappos, Gates Foundation) as well as nonobvious experts in the communications field (Casey Neistat, movie studios, ad agencies, etc.).

Outside Development and Education
Budget ask: $ XXXXX



“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

We need to change how we collaborate within our team and with others.

We want to break down physical and organizational silos. Instead of closeting ourselves in our offices and cubes, we need to be more collaborativeworking cross-skill, cross-role, cross-title, and cross-team.

We want to reshape our work environment with a denser, more open collaborative workspace, with offices turned into breakout spaces. This change directly supports the CR Team Imperative to Improve CR Systems & Processes.

Facilities Management
Budget ask: $ XXXXX

Say Good-bye

Change requires choices. We will have to stop doing some things we are proud of, are good at, and enjoy doing if they no longer serve the needs of Genentech. We must be open to saying good-bye.

Redundancy Redux

So much content is produced by the CR team, across Genentech, and by Roche. While IC will remain a communication producer, we will leverage other effortsembracing a more efficient model that includes aggregation, curation, and distribution of content produced by others.


Measuring Excellence

These are the filters we will apply across every effort.

Success is:


Content is accessible to all types of employees in all locations, including global. Whether on campus or working from their kitchen table, all employees feel Genentech Proud.

On Tone/Creative

Our voice is clear and recognizable throughout all our content (all channels and forms). Our work reflects who we are—smart, witty, irreverent—so our audience looks forward to engaging with us.


We consistently engage up to the exec team and out to influencers, so that our resources become widely adopted and trusted.

Right Content/Right Place

We surprise and delight by creating content our audience wants and distributing it via channels and formats that make it easy to consume and easy to get back to work.


The Big Bold What


To drive reputation and amplify culture, we have identified epic programs to develop in the CR Lab for 2017 and beyond.


GEC Relaunch

With an almost entirely new GEC in place for the start of 2017, we have the opportunity and need to introduce our new leaders while also giving Ian a fitting good-bye. This change is an opportunity for us to try new things and provide our incoming (and existing) leaders with a way to forge meaningful connections with employees quickly. 

Start Proud, Stay Proud

Revisit the employee onboarding process, and consider how to continually re-onboard existing employees with the goal of building and maintaining their excitement and commitment to Genentech long term.

How Does Genentech Work?

A program that explains why, how, and what we do—so our employees can tell others. How does our business really work? How do we calculate pricing? Who buys our stuff? Do they buy it by the vial? Where does our development money come from?

There are many questions and much unsaid or misunderstood of Genentecheven by those who have been here for a decade or more. Taking inspiration from The Big Short (easy-to-understand, entertaining breakdowns of complicated concepts), we can spread empowering information that helps alleviate our employees’ Pharma Guilt and arms them with the language and stories to explain their pride.


Pipeline Palooza

Literally have no ideaover to Heather on this one!

gWiz 3.0

The Big Bold How changes a lot! What are the new channels that we will need, or what will need to change on the existing channels to support our new vision of the future? We will want to partner with the Digital Team to run a series of experiments to iterate towards the next version of gWiz.

One Life

This powerful story can be used to strengthen culture and reputation, demonstrating how everyone at Genentech and the broader, less obvious ecosystem work together to focus on “one life”the life of the patient.

Note to IR team: This story could even bring in some of the work Greg is doing with Markus on in Sub-Saharan Africa (the journey someone has to go to get Avastin or Herceptin theremind blowing and humbling).

Forcing Dates on the horizon

Although this is a 2017+ plan, events are forcing our hand on timing and a pressing need to get up to speed in time to launch. 

We have opportunities for small bets on the calendar, including:

  • Patient Connect, September 6,7, & 8—How do we make this event inclusive and share the moving experience with all?
  • With our Mobile Mindset, what would we do differently? How much can we do by then?
  • Something in October?
  • New GEC, Jan. 1, 2017—A generational change at Genentech, and we can make a huge difference during this transitional period to be helpful to the new GEC. 

Internal Comms Team Outputs

Internal Comms Team Outputs

Every Output Is an Input

Each Think Wrong drill produces useful output. Documentation of our work provides a rich collection of ideas and insights to mine as we move forward. 






















Do It




Matters Most

We considered who might be most important to our success—and who our success might matter most to. 

We used Matters Most—a Move Fast Drill—and uncovered a new way of segmenting the market beyond demographics and departments.


How they stacked up...

Genentech Executive Committee
People who read only on mobile
Employees active on Social
IC Team
People producing great content
Potential employees
Entitled employees
People who don’t read
New employees
Influencer employees
Brand ambassadors
Top performers
Key contributors
Employee at 57 years (highest likelihood of leaving)
HR team
People who Snapchat
Early adopters
GPTW subcontractors
Contingent workers

Who we moved on...

Team 1

Front-line managers
(especially early and new ones)

Employees we want to have stay, but who are thinking about leaving

Team 2

Influencer employees
(engaged employees, brand ambassadors, and leaders without titles)

New employees

Team 3

Employees who are active on social media, and early adopters

Genentech Executive Committee


Moments that Matter

We used Moments that Matter—a Move Fast Drill—to put the needs and opportunities of the people who matter most to us at the center of our development efforts.

We created:

  • An inventory of moments that matter in two categories—those that happen, and those that we might create.
  • Insight into moments that happen—and that need a response—and moments we can create.

  • Hypotheses on which moments matter most relative to the Blitz Challenge.

We wanted to understand how we can matter most to the people who matter most to us.

Deflection Point

We used Deflection Point—a Be Bold Drill—to depart from the status quo and change things from how they are to how they might be for those who matter most to us. We surfaced:

  • Insights into how things are and how they might be
  • Useful trends and global forces that might be leveraged

We wanted to explore the difference we might make.



We escaped the biases, orthodoxies, and assumptions that define the status quo—and that might limit the impact we might have.

We used Moonshot—a Be Bold Drill—to boldly seek challenges and opportunities that exist beyond the limitations of the status quo. We imagined our impact as others would tell us we were crazy for trying. After the drill, we understood how we might:

  • Elevate impact
  • Share our vision of impact
  • Set aspirational goals
  • And give us reasons to believe

Team 1

Team 2

Team2_Moonshot from Future on Vimeo.

Team 3

Team3_Moonshot from Future on Vimeo.


So That

We wanted to align our moonshots with how we want to go about doing them, and why they matter.

We used So That—a Be Bold Drill—to take a step back and consider
the mindset and values we wanted to bring to the challenge—and the difference those values will make. We identified:

  • Important values
  • Mindset and attitude
  • Desired results and impact

It’s Imperative


Strategic imperatives that align with the difference we want to make—and our ability to accomplish them.

We used It’s Imperative—a Be Bold Drill—to reveal the work that matters most and where we possess the ability to make a real difference.


Overcome perceptions of what is—and is not—possible.

We used three Let Go Drills—Trend Takeover, Outlaw Raid, and Brand Takeover—to imagine solutions out of the traditional solution set. We surfed trends, imagined ourselves as the most inspiring business people, and examined other inspirational brands to create:

  • A more expansive perception of what might be possible
  • Ideas that departed from the status quo
  • More discrete and surprising ideas

Impact X Doability

We prioritized ideas for high impact.

We used Impact X Doability—a Move Fast Drill—to use the collective wisdom of the team to rapidly sort, evaluate, and select the most compelling and highest potential ideas.

Name It

We crafted a story for our emerging solution—and understood how people might experience it.

We used Name It—a Make Stuff Drill—to bring ideas to life to understand their potential—and to allow them to inspire other potential solutions. After the drill, we had:

  • Better understanding of our emerging solutions
  • Early use scenarios 
  • Ability to share and learn from others

Team 1


Name: enGage

Tagline: Share Your Passion!

NameIt_iEngage from Future on Vimeo.


Name: Magnificent Milestones

Tagline: Keep that first-day feeling.

NameIt_Magnificent Milestones from Future on Vimeo.


Name: Know How

Tagline: Get what you need where you are.

NameIt_Know Now from Future on Vimeo.

Team 2


Name: Golden Goats

Tagline: Get Your Goat On

NameIt_Golden Goats from Future on Vimeo.


Name: gWiz

Tagline: gettin’ social with itz

NameIt_gwiz from Future on Vimeo.


Name: Welcome!

Tagline: Mmmmm. This Kool-Aid is delicious!

NameIt_Be GNE from Future on Vimeo.

Team 3


Name: Straight Outta SSF/EC Does It.

Tagline: Be There When the Mic Dropz!

NameIt_Straight Outta SSF from Future on Vimeo.


Name: BizByte

Tagline: Your juicy news source

NameIt_Biz Byte from Future on Vimeo.

Learn From Investment


We wanted to place a higher value on discovering new things than on being right.

We used Learn From Investment—a Bet Small drill—to learn more about the true nature of our challenge, our opportunity, and what about our emerging solution works—and doesn’t. We discovered:

  • Design, development, and implementation priorities 
  • Insight into the most fruitful small bets 
  • Freedom from being right

Do It on Monday

We used Do It on Monday—a Bet Small Drill—to focus on the most important questions raised by our solutions. We designed small bets to help us learn the most with the fewest resources. We embraced unexpected results as the entry point to possible breakthroughs. 

We produced a:

  • Portfolio of small bets
  • Clarity about which questions need to be answered first
  • A low-risk path forward
  • Increased opportunity for breakthrough insights

We wanted to learn quickly by restricting what we can work with. 


Team 1
Do It on Monday:

Idea: Know How
Question: What is our first small bet?
Hypothesis: Implement a Google CR Community to test concepts

Team1_DoItonMonday from Future on Vimeo.

3 resources

Web team

2 colleagues



Smoking jacket ($49.99)

5 days:

Talk to Geoff
Owner of IT community

Create Google community

Make video to intro community (Geoff)
Add video to community

Email invite to CR

Check results
Get feedback during 3Q in community

Team 2
Do It on Monday:

Idea: gWiz
Questions: How will we get employees to engage? How will we track employee engagement (overall interactions on gWiz)?

Team2_DoItonMonday from Future on Vimeo.

3 resources

iPhone video (to shoot)
iMovie (to edit)
Include Easter egg (to go viral)

2 colleagues

Ask Nicholas how we track behavior now.
We can interview 10 potential users.


Drinks and bribes
Free stuff
Set up projector screen and show live feed

5 days:

Monday (all can be done on Monday)
Create iPhone video and send to NHO cohort to see what happens
A/B test: Leaders (cascades) vs. Influencers
Track where it goes
Leader-led beginning selfie/#bellyeah to test how or if people engage
Elevate multimedia to front-page gWiz feed
Create bell-ringing live story on Snapchat
People can add to live story

Team 3
Do It on Monday:

Idea: BizBytes/EC does it
Question: How do we roll out juicy bits of news?

Team3_DoItonMonday from Future on Vimeo.

3 resources

GoPro or iPhone
Leader email with video intro

2 colleagues

Content creation (IC)


Participation gift

5 days:

Pick piece of news

Develop content





Waypoint Planning


We wanted discovery to drive our development processes and activities.

Exploration, discovery, learning, new questions, and pivots guide development.

  • First cut at scope of development effort 
  • Priority milestones 
  • Priority questions to answer through development and execution 
  • Assignments for imperatives, workstreams, or “swim lanes”


When we identify video storyteller
When we have vlog training


January ’17

When we audit NHO

Stand Up to Cancer
15K employees

February ’17

Ho-Ho guidelines for the field

When we collaborate with Digital successfully
When we understand what is already being done/considered


March ’17

When everyone has a mobile device

When employees share content on personal networks

When we have a way to guide new hires for how to connect and get info

When every employee can access mobile, anywhere

When we visit companies and universities to understand what’s happening

April ’17

When we celebrate boomerangs in a special way

When we do more low-budget videos that are high quality
When we bring in Casey Neistat

May ’17

When we understand how various groups are feeling about comms, events, etc.

When we figure out how to tell a story in a quick digital format/way

When X% of comms are used for external and internal
When we get a sense of what content and length work

Up to 13 line extensions

June ’17

When we look at the next 10 DNA News stories to see how we could do one or two of them differently

When we have all employees acting on information

Sustainability milestones

July ’17

When we don’t have to “gatekeep” news

When we have an Intern Snapchat Video Challenge

Genentech Gives Back Week

August ’17

When we figure out what Bill likes
When we have nominees for Golden Goats

Science Garage Opening

September ’17

When GEC bugs us to be involved in program

Tesla 3

October ’17

When there are ways to participate in events no matter their physical location

Breast Cancer Awareness

November ’17

When GEC takes to videos

When there is a trending newsfeed across the company

December ’17

When we get positive feedback

When content is on brand

When all employees know who our leaders are

When we launch a program without a CEO email and/or DNA News

Star Wars VIII Dec 15
Happy Holidays


February ’18

When we have a unique style and brand

When GEC is

March ’18

When employees are inspired to create unique content on their own

When the number of inbound questions goes down

When we’re “mobile first”

May ’18

When we are writing something only one time

June ’18

When every employee can articulate values and culture

July ’18

When functions clamor for our content

When employees start asking if they can share internal content externally

August ’18

When we can show data about success

September ’18

When all employees can create and post videos

October ’18

When the folks on the manufacturing floor, deep in the labs, and in the field know what we do

When employee content/comments are on message

When we know what employees will click
When we know what employees are clicking

November ’18

When everyone has the same elevator pitch

When leaders write their own messages

When print promotions aren’t standard
When employees no longer email questions when the answers are online

December ’18

When our communications can flex to evolving workplace trends

When there are more boomerangs who become ambassadors

When people are talking about communications
When employees are as obsessed with checking their Genentech social as they are their personal social
When headlines are clickbait/go viral.


January ’19

When everyone can articulate “Who we (Genentech) are, what we do, and why that matters”

When we know how to measure engagement

February ’19

When video > email

March ’19

When long emails go away

May ’19

When employees share virally so we don’t need to promote programs

June ’19

When Bill or Geoff is asked to do a TED Talk about comms

July ’19

When outsiders know about our culture

When we submit to Fortune via a video/photo/Snapchat-style story

August ’19

When the field doesn’t feel second class

September ’19

When leaders are creating videos by themselves

When other groups don’t feel the need for their own intranet

November ’19

When employees can speak with the “right tone and voice”

December ’19

When other companies are knocking on our door to find out how we do it
When 100% of content that employees get is required or desired

When entitlement goes away

When Roche adopts this approach
When Genentech is a communication case study
When we’re the #1 best company in Fortune
When retention is up and turnover is down

When we are valued for content and feed all functions
When employees want more content
When attraction is at an all-time high

Internal Comms Team Blitz Resources

Internal Comms Team Blitz Resources

Thinking wrong produces valuable resources for the challenge your Blitz was designed to address—and other challenges you might be facing. 


Future provides Blitzers with access to the Think Wrong Lab so you can get maximum value from the resources we have generated together. 

Click OVERVIEW below and log in to the Lab for a quick recap of the purpose of the Blitz.

Click BLITZERS below and log in to the Lab to see who participated in the Blitz.

Click GUIDE below and log in to the Lab to access the final guide for the Blitz. Learn how to run a drill by clicking it in the Guide.

To view the complete collection of photographs, videos, and audio files documenting your Blitz, click MEDIA below.

  • Media is organized by Think Wrong Practice and Drill. Folders titled B Roll or In Action contain photos of Blitzers working together. Folders titled Output contain detailed documentation of what was produced through the drill.

If you cannot remember your password for the Think Wrong Lab, click Get New Password on the login screen and one will be emailed to you.

Happy browsing!