Article: How to create an intrapreneurial culture

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How to create an intrapreneurial culture

When companies build an intrapreneurial environment, one that fosters risk-taking and innovation, they gain in visible ways.
How to create an intrapreneurial culture

“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it. The Macintosh team was what is commonly known as intrapreneurship… a group of people going, in essence, back to the garage, but in a large company.”

—Steve Jobs

What is intrapreneurship?

Intrapreneurship is all about encouraging employees to think, dream, act, and create as though they were entrepreneurs themselves. It might be an employee who comes up with a very good idea who sees a powerful new way to move the business forward. When you empower people to think and act as entrepreneurs within a business or organisation, it is called “intrapreneurship.” 

When companies build an intrapreneurial environment, one that fosters risk-taking and innovation, they gain in visible ways. Enthusiasm increases manifold when people believe they are not only given a real opportunity to think, try and transform but will be rewarded for it! Teams become more industrious, consistent, content and efficient in intrapreneurial environs.

An intrapreneurship culture is not an overnight event. You help create an intrapreneurial thinking environment and constantly support it. When groups of people start thinking like intrapreneurs more naturally than forced, that’s when the “culture” is born. 

How do you create an intrapreneurship culture?

An article on Vocoli talks about how Google allows time for personal projects….

“Some of Google’s best projects come out of their “20 per cent time” policy.  Paul Buchheit, the creator of Gmail, started on the project in 2001 and worked up to its launch on April 1, 2004 (April Fools but not really.) Gmail became the first email with a successful search feature and the option to keep all of your email (hello 1GB of storage) instead of frantically deleting to stay under your limit. The initial launch was by invite only, quite the hot commodity. Now, it’s considered a faux pas not to have an email address ending in @gmail.com.”

Intrapreneurship is effective in attracting and retaining talent. When individuals are given a chance to ideate, create and execute themselves, there is a lot more job satisfaction. Here are some ways of doing it. 

  1. Identify your Intrapreneurs

    Not all people are intrapreneurs. Some are at a higher degree of being intrapreneurial than others. In every company, intrapreneurs already exist within the organisation but they need to be discovered, nurtured and boosted.  Find out who thinks like an intrapreneur in the company.

  2. Equal opportunity for all

    Allow individuals to voice their views and opinions freely. Give everyone from the housekeeping staff to the CXO an open forum to make innovations in their work. Titles & levels have nothing to do with Intrapreneurship. Small ideas can be just as beneficial as sweeping innovation efforts.

    A guard suggested changes in the way the Massachusetts Department of Correction stored their inmate photos. Instead of taking pictures with film and storing them the old fashioned way, why not use digital cameras and use a database for image storing.

    The department has sixteen correctional facilities and in the first year of implementation alone it saved $56,000 dollars on film and most likely a lot of clerical headaches

  3. Empower people

    It isn't enough to “encourage” people. An organization must equip its intrapreneurs with decision making and independence. Each person must feel ownership for the improvements and advancement they have generated. In this respect, employees need to be encouraged to create solutions independently of the chain of command.

  4. Increase the risk-taking quotient

    Fear of risk stifles intrapreneurs. Each organization has a different risk appetite and that is usually apparent to its employees. As intrapreneurs make decisions, they must be willing to take intelligent risks and, although fully prepared to be held accountable, they should not be afraid of maltreatment or mockery if they fail. The organization needs to create some safeguards there.

  5. Be transparent

    Allow individuals to access to information. Trusting employees with important company information and making them feel included in organizational decisions will make them feel like more involved the business as well as its systems and processes, regardless of their own individual roles.

  6. Give time and space

    For any individual to think out of the box and come up with ideas and solutions, they need time and space. 

  7. Solutionists not obstructionists 

    When an issue occurs, intrepreneurs must take responsibility and address it right away. If they don't, the problem could escalate and cause the things to fail. It is important to Instill a sense of urgency in employees and teach them to fix all problems, large or small, as they arise.

  8. Applaud and reward

    The higher the affirmation, the higher the motivation to be an intrapreneur! Celebrate intrapreneurial successes and the people behind them—individuals or teams. Recognition and reward are meaningful positive reinforcement for intrapreneurs and provide them with the incentive to stay and continue to add value while increasing their contributions in the future.

  9. Encourage collaboration& healthy competition

    It is important to have a combination of collaboration and competition to create an intrapreneurship culture. Collaboration is necessary for teams to work together and make a success of ideas and solutions. Unless people collaborate, they will not leverage collective intelligence.

    On the other hand, intrapreneurial employees should have a healthy sense of competition so that they are constantly challenging one another and also don't get too complacent. They need to feel like there can be better benchmarks to keep them continuously motivated.

  10. Provide Resources 

    In order to go ahead and make a success of innovations, ideas and thought processes, it is important to let intrapreneurs know of resources. One of the biggest difficulties for intrapreneurs is the inability to obtain the necessary resources, at the right time to move a project forward. By creating resource availability for intrapreneurs, companies can empower more ideas and increase the likelihood of creating new & viable areas of business.

By giving people the right tools, resources, support and recognition at the workplace, it is easy to create the culture of intrapreneurship. It makes for happy and engaged teams that can innovate and make businesses more productive. Intrapreneurship can lend itself to products, services or even processes. Organizations that foster an intrapreneurship culture stand to gain in myriad ways!

Topics: Life @ Work, Culture, Entrepreneurship

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