THE DYNAMICS OF INTRAPRENEURSHIP
I have had the privilege of working with different teams over the span of over two decades. Each team has been unique in several ways, mainly because of the individual personalities and specialties, and how their differences influenced their output. When I decided to start my Coaching Consulting Group, I had to look beyond qualities of hardworking smart people. The nature of the task at hand required that I involve people who were willing to get their hands dirty and treat the business as though it were their own. And guess what? I found a few young ladies and gentlemen who bought into my dream and availed themselves to help me grow my brand. It came to me that these people might as well have their individual businesses because they made my business theirs, in unique ways.
What have you heard about the term intrapreneurship? You, my dear reader, may not have ever heard this term before but it is not a new concept. In my opinion, it is a type of management system that allows for dynamism in the corporate and business space. This form of team management is practised in many circles of business across the globe. Aside the fact that it helps in boosting the confidence of employees, it is very suitable in spaces of creativity, as it allows each person to simply be themselves and make contributions as though they owned the business.
One may ask, what are the attributes of intrapreneurs? They cannot be identified by a single trait because they exhibit a mix of characteristics. They are usually independent, very confident and attentive to details. They love to take initiative and always put themselves in positions to solve problems and achieve goals successfully.
The business of intrapreneurship is not much different from that of entrepreneurship. In fact, it is entrepreneurship that is applied within the confines of an organization. As sighted in Forbes, sustainable business school founder, Gifford Pinchot III, coined the term ‘Intrapreneur’ in 1978 and defined it as “dreamers who do.” “Intrapreneurs are employees who do for corporate innovation what an entrepreneur does for his or her start-up.” is another definition he uses. Most of us are familiar with the concept of entrepreneurship. The practice by which an individual or a group of people with a common idea invest time, money and many other resources into bringing this vision to life. One of the strongest pivots of any brilliant idea is that it must solve a problem. The same goes for intrapreneurship. It is simply creating an environment within an enterprise that will support people and make it easier for them to take up responsibilities and find solutions to problems. This type of system does not make space for micromanaging. Is it not strange to find an entrepreneur who is constantly being watched or checked on every time he has to make a decision? It is the same with giving employees the trust and go ahead to practise entrepreneurship within your firm.
One of my most interesting teams was one where each person was solely in charge of a different branch of a common project. Each individual had to solve any upcoming challenge, brainstorm ideas to raise funds or even find a team and delegate tasks to. This is a form on entrepreneurship, employees given the ability to practise entrepreneurship with much more ease and with more resources available, given that the company has been in good standing for several years.
Deloitte Digital in its quest to understand the concept of intrapreneurship and how to integrate it into the DNA of organizations run a series of interviews with intrapreneurs and innovation managers. The research served them with several insights, one of them being that, intrapreneurship pays off many times in terms of company growth, culture and talent. Another observation was that, for intrapreneurship to be effective, it needs a different management approach. It is clear that the practice, if carefully developed and successfully incorporated by company managers, can result in innovation, growth and profitability. This concept may be foreign to our spaces in Africa because of cultural influences when it comes to how leadership and management is viewed and practised. We make the mistake of shutting down innovative ideas without given open audience to ascertain its potential.
Globally, intrapreneurship has produced many success stories. “The Macintosh team was what is commonly known as an intrapreneurship…a group of people going, in essence, back to the garage, but in a large company.” – Steve Jobs, Newsweek, 1995. The separation of Steve Jobs along with 20 employees resulted in the now famous brand, Apple. Forbes Magazine also recounts the story of the Kodak camera – While working at Kodak, electrical engineer, Steven Sasson invented and created the first digital camera. When he presented his idea to the executives at Kodak, they saw Sasson’s invention more of a threat than an evolutionary corner for photography. Even though they allowed him to produce a prototype, he was asked to keep his invention quiet and the camera never saw the light of day. In 2012, Kodak filed for bankruptcy as they were not prepared to compete on the market of digital technology.
So how can you help your organisation?
- BE READY AND PREPARED FOR CHANGE
I find that people and companies as a whole are afraid of change. And it not very easy for firms who have built their legacy around certain cultures and concepts to make a switch. But the only way forward is to be open to accept new ideas, modify status the quo and embrace entrepreneurial minds that exist within the organization.
- SUPPORT THE CHANGE
It is important to create an environment where intrapreneurs feel supported. It is very likely that you will have such personalities in your enterprise. Put in place managers that can pick out these people. Remember, they are problem-solvers. One way to identify them is to throw a problem-solving challenge to everyone without any incentive. Intrapreneurs will most likely take up the responsibility to find solutions and even go further to make sure they are implemented. Encouraging employees in the way of entrepreneurial thinking can save the company a lot of stress and money. Instead of looking outside the company to get certain things done, offering support in varying forms can lead to ground breaking discoveries for the benefit of all. Separate budgets can be assigned to teams that are found to have an entrepreneurial attitude. Coaching courses and development programmes, amongst other things can be used to nurture such people.
- DECENTRALIZE, THEN MOTIVATE
To foster a system that supports intrapreneurship, managers must be willing to intentionally decentralize. Sub projects can be delegated to allow for problem-solving, research and exploration for new knowledge. All this should be supported by motivation in many kinds. This should not only be cash incentive. Allocating time to allow people be creative counts as motivation. For instance. Google employees are allowed to spend one day out of the week to work on a project discrete from Google. There is even the opportunity for employees to present their ideas to Google for investment support. Similar is also accommodated at tech giant and popular mobile phone company, Samsung.
- FOCUS ON A COMMON GOAL
Each and every person is driven by something, often dissimilar from what motivates other persons. As managers and leaders, we need to first determine what motivates a person. All these indicators will serve as guidance to leaders and people in decision-making roles to ensure that each individual is properly motivated to give off their best. A newly employed person for instance is most likely to have a different need and motivator to perform above and beyond standards. An employee of many years may be motivated by a potential promotion. In both cases, a common goal must be sought to bring all parties on board. When the focus is on one thing, all efforts can properly be channeled to achieve this goal. Whereas in competitions, the objective is to for people to gain something for themselves and not something beyond themselves. “There is no limit to what can be accomplished if it doesn’t matter who gets the credit” – Harry S. Truman
Intrapreneurship is a simple but effective way to create a progressive future for our companies as managers, stakeholders and leaders. There are various models that can assist with implementation if you are willing to take this up. Keep in mind that preparing for positive change and making room for it is the way to creating a better future.
Are you ready for TRANSFORMATION?
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo: The H.E.L.P. Coach
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo is a Personal Impact, Professional Growth and Influence Expert specializing in Humanness, Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Power – H.E.L.P.
A career spanning over two decades, she has established herself as a Certified High Performance Coach, Speaker, Author, Wellness Expert and award-winning Entrepreneur with a clientele ranging from C-Suite Executives, Senior Management, Practitioners and Sales Leaders spanning 3 continents.
She is the Founder of Dzigbordi K. Dosoo (DKD) Holdings; a premier lifestyle business group with brand subsidiaries that include Dzigbordi Consulting Group& Allure Africa.
She is one of the most decorated female entrepreneurs in Ghana having being named “CIMG Marketing Woman of the Year” in 2009; “Top 10 most respected CEOs in Ghana, 2012; Global Heart of Leadership Award and, Women Rising “100 Most Influential Ghanaian Women”, 2017. She has also been featured on CNN.
She can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org and @dzigbordi across all social media platforms.