Entrepreneurship has emerged as a global buzzword and every aspiring individual is racing to get into this exciting and mysterious voyage. Being widely hyped and mediatized, we cannot afford not to be familiar with some aspects of entrepreneurship. However, there is a novel variation of this concept, which many of us are still unaware of. It is intrapreneurship. So, let’s get literate about it!
There is fierce competition in the corporate world nowadays. Organizations seek innovative ways to remain relevant to their customers, stay ahead of their competitors, and be a pioneer in their respective fields. Now, it is an accepted fact that innovation is key to success and hence corporations need to constantly look for creativity to grow and flourish. That brings the concept of intrapreneurship. At Fujn, we define it as the application of entrepreneurial practices in an already established organization.
This concept lets the employee behave as an entrepreneur within her organization. Hence an intrapreneur is a proactive, self-directed, ambitious, dynamic, and goal-oriented individual, who is creative and willing to take the initiatives for his own as well as the overall company’s development. These individuals have an entrepreneurial mindset and therefore are self-motivated and visionary. Hence, it is acceptable to view intrapreneurship as a stepping stone to entrepreneurship.
Exploring a new venture or endeavoring on a novel concept requires resources along with a creative mind, and hence it entails too much risk. As intrapreneurship involves the utilization of a company’s resources, it provides a strong impetus to move ahead and execute the ground-breaking ideas without bearing the risk of failure as an individual. That said, intrapreneurship is comparatively smoother and less demanding than entrepreneurship and can form an experimental lab towards entrepreneurship.
Why do organizations need more intrapreneurs?
We all have heard about this popular phrase — “Survival of the fittest” that originated from the Darwinian evolutionary theory. It states that the organisms which are best adjusted to their environment are most successful in surviving and reproducing. Needless to say, that this common saying is applicable to the business world as well and it needs constant advancement on the part of companies to sustain and grow in this highly competitive world. Organizations that fail to adapt and embrace the ever-evolving requirements will ultimately be replaced by their strong rivals. Therefore, in a need to survive and thrive, companies need to appropriately identify the upbeat, enthusiastic, and action-oriented individuals, who are willing to take on challenges and leverage their skills and the company’s resources to bring constant innovation within the organization.
It is therefore the responsibility of an organization to recognize such assertive and resolute professionals, promote their ideas and incentivize them. This is highly imperative to create an entrepreneurial culture.
How does Google transform ambitious employees into intrapreneurs?
Who wants to do mundane and repetitive tasks all the time? Our brains naturally need to breathe by thinking about something different!!
It is crucial for any organization to develop a creative culture for its employees, wherein they are given time and resources to think out of the box and present unique ideas and proposals. According to a survey commissioned by the American Management Association and conducted by the Human Resource Institute, the top five elements required to instill an innovative culture in an organization include 1) customer focus, 2) teamwork or collaboration with others, 3) appropriate resources (time and money), 4) timely and effective organizational communication, and 5) the ability to select the right ideas for further research.
The study reflects that for an employee to bring a ground-breaking idea to the table, it is the prime responsibility for an employer to provide her with all the required tools and resources and have effective and timely communication with her. Moreover, the communications and collaborations outside the current working teams immensely help the employees to break their conventional thinking process and stimulate their brains to think in new ways.
This has been best exemplified by Google, with their unique employee motivational tool “Innovation Time Off”. As per the company’s policy of “20% time”, the engineers are allowed to spend 20% of their time on personal projects. Interestingly, some of the company’s most successful products such as Gmail, AdSense, Google News, and Google talk, have been launched as a result of this 20% off time.
“We encourage our employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google. This empowers them to be more creative and innovative. Many of our significant advances have happened in this manner.” — Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google Founders
Canva and Flexi-time/Flexi workspace approach
Say goodbye to the rigid 9 to 5 work pattern!! Flexible timing is the new norm of working effectively and joyfully!!
It is evident that employees with the flexibility of working outside the traditional norms of 9–5 are more productive. As long as employees are meeting deadlines, it is not harmful for the organization to introduce a flexible work policy. Amid the pandemic, remote work has become customary. While the covid cases are going off the boil, many organizations are still embracing this remote working culture, either partially or completely. As per a recent study by Canva, that surveyed 2,000 U.S. adults, working from home in 2020, it was found that these professionals were more productive, collaborative, and confident in their roles and have developed deeper networking with colleagues, due to the adoption of remote working. Following were the results of the study:
50% admitted that remote work has improved their productivity
For 76% of the respondents, the relationships with co-workers have become stronger
75% believe that they are more confident in their role and position
Almost half (46%) say remote work has improved collaboration with colleagues
Providing a flexible work schedule is another way to boost the employees’ morale and empower them to organize their own time schedules. Higher productivity provides enough room for employees to think and experiment with their ideas. This is an excellent way for intrapreneurs to execute their visions and projects.
Do more brainstorming and competitive events
Brainstorming is important to stimulate critical thinking and gets the best out of the collective brains, as creativity and innovation do not happen with a single brain. The brainstorming approach not just sparks new ideas, it promotes free-thinking and team cohesion. While this is beneficial for the growth and success of an organization, it also encourages individuals to bring their imagination and enterprising vision.
While brainstorming sessions are normally confined to an organization, the ideation can happen at an intercompany level as well. For instance, participating in hackathons is the best way for programmers to display their programming skills and collaborate with great minds. For those who are not familiar with Hackathon, it is a competition-style event, hosted by a tech company, where programmers, developers, designers, and project managers act as a team and come together for a short stint to co-function on a project. Such kind of competitive events offers a strong platform for an emerging and aspiring intrapreneur.
It is necessary to keep the employee motivated, recognize his ideas and keep him in the loop regarding any development or feedback. Incentivizing an innovation can go a long way. Corporates should develop an action plan to select and execute innovative ideas. If ideas are not given due attention, it will demotivate employees and halt any further proposals. Also, it is important to give employees the opportunity to meet with management and have greater exposure to the organization’s strategic direction. Once an idea is successfully executed, the employee should be rewarded either in the form of financial compensation or other perks. Even if the idea fails, it is the responsibility of an employer to encourage failure. The element of fear and failure can kill the creativity of a budding intrapreneur.
Many successful entrepreneurs, in their lifetime, have been through this intrapreneurial journey. If you are a successful intrapreneur, you can always take your innovative skills to the next level and set foot into the fascinating world of an entrepreneur. Or perhaps you can continue to serve organizations and help them accelerate their growth and benefit financially and emotionally in the process.