Intrapreneurship – A New Economy Necessity
The concept of intrapreneurship has been around for a couple of decades now. Post 2008, as the global economy continues to evolve at a rapid rate, intrapreneurship is fast becoming a necessity.
“Intrapreneurship is the act of spearheading new programs, products, services, innovations, and policies within an organization.” Traditionally, these activities were seen as the exclusive domain of leadership. To survive and thrive in the new economy, we need to rethink the way we define who is responsible for what.
The people on the front line need to be able to manage and cope with 80% of the day-to-day. Leaders need to spend 80% of their time developing trusted advisor relationships with key clients and searching for new opportunities and emerging trends. Management needs to spend 80% of their time acting as a bridge between leadership and the front lines. Everyone is responsible for implementing strategy.
Shift in thinking
This necessary shift in responsibility demands that we shift our thinking. We have deeply ingrained paradigms around what it means to be a leader, a manager and a front line worker. Our approach to problems solving and decision making is much too linear to deal with the reality of a complex, deeply connected global economy. Every single person must have the ability to adapt and change on the fly AND stay on strategy. We have to do all of this and still stay within time and money budgets.
Entrepreneurs thrive in complex, ever-changing environments. They are experts at making decisions from a holistic, rather than a functional perspective. They define “failure” as learning. Instead of shutting down, entrepreneurs learn, adapt, move forward and in that process, grow.
Intrapreneurship is the act of spearheading new programs, products and services within organisations. Intrapreneurship is also a way of thinking, a stance, logic or set of paradigms that are usually thought to be natural and exclusive to entrepreneurs.
Here are 5 ways you can begin to develop intrapreneurial skills and thinking in everyone in your organisation:
- Get your values, purpose, vision and strategy on one page. Invest time in communicating this to every single person in your organisation.
- Invest time in education and training specific to your values, purpose, vision and strategy. They are the strongest filters for decision making you have. Make sure everyone knows how to use them as such.
- Invest money and time in developing everyone’s communication and complex problem solving skills. In order for people to actually be willing to take personal responsibility, they have to have the skills to have difficult conversations. They need to define “failure” as learning and thrive on solving complex, messy problems.
- Get in the habit of forming and re-forming fluid, cross-functional teams as needed. Expert entrepreneurs consistently reach out to whom they know when they decide to move forward on initiatives or hit road blocks.
- Measure lead indicators. In business we are really good at measuring lag indicators, like financial metrics. They tell us if we hit our mark. It’s even more important to measure lead indicators. They tell us if we’re on track to hitting our goal.
The road ahead
Intrapreneurship, the skills themselves and as cultural mindset, is absolutely critical to business today, especially in the developed economies. Ginni Dietrich of Arment Dietrich wrote a great post about how important intrapreneurship is to the future of the United States. I think what she’s saying is just as relevant for Canada, the UK, the EU and enterprises anywhere that are interested in generating sustained profit and growth.
What’s your take on intrapreneurship? Where have you seen it working, or not working? Share your thoughts below. I value your input.