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Pivot: How Top Entrepreneurs Adapt and Change Course to Find Ultimate Success by Joanne Hyland, Remy Arteaga

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Chapter 9

Incubation—Discipline Together with Chaos1

Do you have time for a few more stories about the corporate entrepreneur before jumping into the Incubation principles? In my days as a corporate entrepreneur, I learned only too well that this world of uncertainty requires thick skin. After my experiences at Nortel, I wrote an article remarking that there is a unique passion and commitment (along with an element of masochism) required to ride the wave of chaos, change, and uncertainty. Change is not easy. Getting someone to believe in the potential of your opportunity is the easy part, or at least it was for our Nortel team.

It is also the view of Alan Schrob, who was director of new business development at NOVA Chemicals, when we worked together. As he described, “Incubation for us was the most critical phase. The learning we did during Discovery was incredibly important in terms of understanding the opportunity, but Incubation is when the risk profile changes dramatically, investments begin, agreements are constructed, and prototypes are tested in the marketplace.”

While we did not call it Incubation in our early Nortel days, this is what we were aiming for. It is where the rubber hits the road, and a long and winding road (borrowed with appreciation from the Beatles) at that, due to all the uncertainty we have to deal with. It is the time when patience wears thin because people are looking for more immediate results.

This goes back to all those resource and organization uncertainties ...

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