Flip No. 83

Fight Bureaucracy With a “Yes Lab”

A coalition turns to skunk works to create effect change.

By Team Colorado Coalition for the Homeless

Developed at Flip the Clinic Lab: Denver

In Denver, 1,000 people sleep on the streets every night, while another 7,000 take cover in shelters, motel rooms, and on friends’ couches. The 500 employees of the Coalition for the Homeless fight tirelessly to get people off the streets and into permanent housing, running 29 different programs and making 100,000 patient contacts per year. But with such a big organization fighting such a big problem, it can be frustrating when the sheer size of the organization gets in the way of great service.

It’s the same problem a lot of startups face when they grow from tiny, nimble organizations into massive companies. So to fight the it, the Coalition plans to do what so many big companies have done: develop a skunk works, where a small group of people get together to find and build a solution to a particular problem. To make sure the group remains dedicated, it will have weekly lunch meetings to keep things moving, and each member has vowed to quickly respond to every skunk works-related email that lands in their inbox. With a small team focused on problem solving, the Yes Lab team expects to find new and innovative ways to use their resources to help the homeless and build morale among those working with a vulnerable population.