Business needs a bit more intrapreneurial spirit

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Intrapreneurship is responsible for a lot of product innovation around the world today. At Lockheed Martin, intrapreneurs developed a number of famous aircraft designs and at 3M, they came up with Post-It Notes and at Google, they came up with Google News, AdSense and Gmail. What these examples have in common is that companies embraced the idea of allowing their employees to become entrepreneurs and capitalize on new business ideas.

These free flowing ideas come from in-house programs, which include Google’s famous “20% program”, contests, hackathons, skunk works and informal programs where employees pitch ideas directly to executives. Smart companies want you to become an intrapreneur because it fuels business growth and allows them to gain a competitive advantage in their industry.

In these changing times there is a legitimate argument that larger organisations need to adapt their cultures and approaches to level the playing field and create opportunities for their people to work more entrepreneurially.

Software can be an incredible enabler of this and idea management platforms are becoming the de facto solution within innovative and entrepreneurially-minded organisations. These platforms offer an off-the-shelf option to businesses to engage their staff (and other stakeholders) in their idea challenges. People are invited to bring their ideas and solutions to defined business challenges, collaborate on these ideas and develop them through a defined process to surface and deliver the best ideas. Unleashing your corporate entrepreneurs has never been simpler, and there is evidence to support the value that can be and has been, delivered.

But only if organisational cultures and management philosophies support it. This requires risk taking. Breakthrough innovators are willing to make decisions and choices on the basis of intuition and insight, rather than relying solely on data and forecasts – they bet on people rather than manage a process.

I’ll be talking more about this, and organisations who’ve been doing so successfully – such BBC, Capita, Aviva and Waitrose – at the upcoming Intrapreneurship Conference in London from the 27th-29th May. The event is the perfect place for corporate entrepreneurs, innovation managers and experts to learn the best and next practices for implementing and scaling intrapreneurship. I’ll be talking more about the other keynote speakers next week.


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