This is the third part of a series of articles in which you will get an overview of the meaning of intrapreneurship. You will learn what intrapreneurship exactly means, how it works and what it takes for a successful implementation in the company.
PROMOTING INTRAPRENEURSHIP IN THE COMPANY
Good ideas emerge everywhere in the company, sometimes even where you least expect them. That’s why more and more companies are turning to internal programs and measures to harness and develop the entrepreneurial potential of employees and their ideas.
An important criterion in establishing these programs is that they should ideally be open to all employees – from cleaners to the head of the company.
Large corporations establish extensive intrapreneurship programs that give all employees the opportunity to present ideas. If these ideas have potential, the idea providers can also implement them independently within the organization. These programs and the selection of ideas are very extensive and cost-intensive and therefore difficult to implement for small and medium-sized companies.
However, any company can take steps within the organization with little effort to promote intrapreneurship.
COMMITMENT FROM COMPANY MANAGEMENT
First, it is important that company management as well as executives make a clear commitment that the development of innovation and the engagement of intrapreneurship are desired and encouraged. Employees should feel empowered to think about innovation and be able to talk about it openly. Managers should be open to these employees and their ideas and support them as advisors, mentors and door openers to develop their ideas further.
INNOVATION MANAGEMENT/INNOVATION WORKSHOPS
Innovation management encompasses all measures to promote and utilize renewal in the company. The focus is not on the new alone, but also on the benefits derived from the innovation. The goal is new and improved products, new business models or new processes.
In order to establish these successfully, framework conditions are defined for the company so that ideas can emerge everywhere in the company and be turned into innovations.
Innovation workshops are moderated events that are organized within innovation management to generate or deepen ideas or to evaluate and select proposals. They can deal with various innovation topics such as future products and services, new business models or measures to increase productivity.
In principle, it helps if the position of an innovation manager is created in the company. This person is the contact person for all those who want to become entrepreneurially active in the company. He or she creates innovation programs and establishes intrapreneurship in the company.
The innovation manager forms the interface between top management and employees, organizes idea workshops, networks employees into cross-departmental teams or helps form new independent and cross-functional teams to further develop, test and implement ideas.
A key characteristic of intrapreneurs is that they can and are allowed to make decisions independently, in order to be able to react autonomously and thus
to be able to react quickly. This competence also simultaneously promotes a sense of responsibility, problem-solving skills and motivation.
If decision-making authority is not relinquished, there is a danger that employees will give up their independence and contact their superiors every time they have a concern, which in turn has a demotivating effect.
However, there is not only black and white here, it is also possible to set up a team consisting of members from different departments who are given process responsibility and decision-making authority. This ensures that decisions are considered from different perspectives.
POSITIVE ERROR CULTURE
Those who take the risk of failure, see opportunities in mistakes and are willing to learn from them will be successful in the long term. Therefore, the corporate culture must also tolerate mistakes in order to promote intrapreneurship.
When mistakes happen, it is important that they are dealt with without reproach. Only in this way can the cause be determined and measures taken to prevent the mistakes from happening again. The startup process is very much based on quick decisions, testing and feedback, so that whenever a mistake is made, there is an opportunity to correct it quickly and test it again.
Intrapreneurship is the result of creativity, and creativity also requires space and time. Companies can therefore promote intrapreneurship by giving employees time to work on their own ideas and projects. Google had given its employees 20 percent working time for this purpose. This is certainly very radical and not feasible for many companies. But even a few hours a week or special agreements between employees and supervisors are certainly ways to send a signal that intrapreneurship is important for the company. In the meantime, more and more companies are also promoting internal exchange through Company Networking Dates, where dialog is promoted beyond the departments.
More and more companies have collaboration platforms that show employees where which skills are needed for a project. Anyone who is interested and has time can jump in and use their skills to slip into a new role, at least temporarily.
Intrapreneurship requires as many of the measures described as possible in order to be successful in the long term and to change the corporate culture.
Intrapreneurship is often equated with idea management. Companies focus primarily on this area if they want to implement a start-up culture in the company. However, this is not enough.
If one concentrates only on this aspect, it can quickly happen that only a few ideas are submitted after initial euphoria.
With a combination of different measures, there is a good chance of a long-term change in the corporate culture toward more innovation and entrepreneurial spirit.
Question for you: Can employees in your company use collaboration platforms to identify where innovative projects are being worked on in the company and participate in them?
To read more:
Part 1: Intrapreneurship – How innovation succeeds from within your own company.
Part 2: How intrapreneurs think and work
Part 3: Success factors for successful intrapreneurship in your company