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Pirates in The Navy — Frequently Asked Questions

These are some of the typical questions we received for our executive master class “Pirates in the Navy”. If you have any other question, please do not hesitate to contact us.

What does “Pirates in The Navy” stand for?

It’s a phrase you might stumble upon in the startup and innovation community. It is said that Steve Jobs popularised the metaphor when he famously stated: “It’s better to be a pirate than join the navy.”  In line with that early Apple developers even hid a Pirate-themed video as an easter egg in a Quadra System CD. Ever since then the phrase got picked up, first in Silicon-Valley, later internationally. It is now a common metaphor for innovators and entrepreneurs who respectfully break things and rules to move a cause or mission forward.

Thus, those innovators are not the image of the “sociopathic criminal, who doesn’t hesitate to harm others in the pursuit of naked self-interest” that many people still have in mind about a pirate. We at co:dify use the term ‘pirate’ more in line with what Reid Hoffman describes as “lovable rogues, who break rules but whose acquisitiveness is restrained by a code of ethics.”

And it is these kinds of people that have become more attractive to big organizations. Only because they start as rebellious skunkworks teams or units, they can really think and build the new. Unfortunately their strengths, often are seen as weaknesses or even threats by people in the core organization. As their working culture and attitude totally counteract the prevailing culture in the core, the latter will almost always ‘strike back’ and thwart their efforts.

As we will work on how to reconcile the navy (core organization) with the pirates (innovators and intrapreneurs) and what role strategy and org design play in this endeavor, we called the learning experience “Pirates in the Navy”.

Want to know more? Read these links:

Our organization already decided for ‘one’ innovation approach (e.g. Design Thinking / Lean Startup / Scrum) and we want to scale it. Will the class cover how to do this?

Yes and no. Even though we have world-class expertise especially in design thinking and solid one in Lean Startup we designed this learning experience methodology-agnostic. This means: we won’t go into the nitty-gritty details of diffusing isolated management ideas (which we would advise against anyway). What we will rather show and discuss is their high-level interplay and the organizational prerequisites to really adapt and adopt them successfully. This is totally independent of any particular method(ology) or hype-of-the-day approach. The format, however, has a bias towards the more fuzzy frontend of innovation and its later implementation pathways. So, we will not cover too much agile project management topics like Scrum or Kanban, as there are already hundreds of existing formats for that in the market.

Two days is too long for our management board. Do you also have a shorter version of the format?

Yes. We also offer a one-and-a-half, a one-day and a half-day versions of the class. So, you can choose depending on availability. However, we highly recommend convincing yourself/the board to make some more time for the future of your organization. Even if most of the implementation work will later be delegated to VP-level managers and below, we’ve learned that it takes a while to really gain a common understanding of how to think and structure innovation strategy also within leadership. This means the more open space we have during the day(s) to discuss that in the leadership circle the more you will also gain from it. You can find our contact data here.

Do you also offer the format in open classes?

Not yet. So far we only do dedicated in-house training. But, we will start to experiment with open masterclasses in 2019. If you want to be informed, when we launch new learning formats, you can subscribe here.

I am an innovation (lab) manager. Is the format also suitable for my team?

Yes, of course. It is a great knowledge activation for every innovation professional, as it gives an overview of all the structures management has to build, to ensure your teams can work frictionlessly. It will also show them the complexity, trade-offs, and decisions management will have to make. That might lead to more empathy and a better understanding between your teams and your leadership. At best it also gives them a better sense, what their role is in the greater scheme of thing of a big organization. So, we believe, it’s worthwhile for innovation teams in non-leadership roles as well.

Updated on August 28, 2019

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