Check it out what you will find on this article about intrapreneurial culture:
- Intrapreneurs – Not Your Regular Employees
- Flatten Organizational Hierarchy
- Create Leadership Philosophy that Aligns with Your Intrapreneurial Culture
- Give People Time for Personal Projects
- Attract People Looking to Start a Business
- Use Online Collaboration Tools to Create a More Decentralized Workspace
It would be a colossal understatement to say that entrepreneurship is on the rise. Around 543,000 new businesses are being established every month as per Yahoo and chances are this number will only increase in times to come. There is quite a strong message hidden in these numbers, which is that people wish to be free and live a life on their own terms and this applies just as much to employees as it does to entrepreneurs. What this also points to is an incredible opportunity waiting for businesses which can tap into its workforce’s innate talents and use it to drive innovation and productivity via a strong intrapreneurial culture.
Intrapreneurs – Not Your Regular Employees
Intrapreneurs are essentially entrepreneurs that work within a company rather than on their own. The term first appeared in the book Intrapreneuring: Why You Don’t Have to Leave Big Corporations to Become an Entrepreneur by Gifford and Elizabeth Pinchot in 1986. In it, they define an intrapreneur as “dreamers who do. Those who take a hands-on responsibility for creating innovation of any kind, within a business.”
So, while an entrepreneur chooses to start his/her own business and assumes all the risk and rewards of doing the same, an intrapreneur brings the same drive and skills minus most of the risks and some of the rewards. Both have strong leadership skills, are highly adaptable and like to test their ideas. The advantage that intrapreneurs enjoy however is that their failures are absorbed by the organization they work for. They do not have to invest in resources and will find all the support they need under one roof.
Creating an intrapreneurial culture therefore should be prioritized as it can help businesses find better solutions to problems, develop and test new ideas and come up with more efficient ways to get things done. Here are a few ideas to try…
Flatten Organizational Hierarchy
As time tested as hierarchies are, they sometimes fail to live up to the constantly changing nature of modern business landscape, which requires companies to pivot on a dime at a moment’s notice. A flatter hierarchy will allow employees to be assigned to areas their strengths are most needed dynamically.
There are several ways to enable a flat organizational structure. Mozilla for instance, has a minimum viable bureaucracy model where they try and educate employees to organize themselves rather than have one manager constantly putting everyone in line.
Similarly, the video games company Valve has always been hierarchy free as stated on their about us page which reads – “boss free, since 1996.” Anyone at Valve can join any project they want. Project leaders are not managers in the traditional sense, but serve as a conduit of information for their team members.
A flat structure follows the Teal organizational paradigm which was first noted in Frederic Laloux’s book Reinventing Organizations. Teal organizations attempt breakthroughs in three domains:
- Self-management: A system based on peer relationships rather than a central hierarchy.
- Wholeness: A consistent set of practices that allow members to bring their entire collection of strengths to a company.
- Evolutionary purpose: The organization itself is treated as a living organization with each member serving a role in its evolution.
Create Leadership Philosophy that Aligns with Your Intrapreneurial Culture
An intrapreneurial culture requires employees to have a highly investigative and inquiring mindset so that they can find the most optimum solutions to their problems. In which case, a leadership structure acclimatized to the old ways of doing things will find it hard to function in an environment where regular top down authority is no longer a given. Managers and project leads will have to learn to look at their fellow team members as leaders in their own rights and not people who simply exist to do their bidding.
One way leaders can help create an intrapreneurial culture is by acting more as mentors rather than bosses. Unlike a traditional leader, a mentor attempts to forge deeper teacher-students like bonds with their team-members. While leaders attempt to use employees as resources to get things done, a mentor is more concerned with helping employees improve and become the best possible version of themselves. The rationale to mentorship in a corporate environment is that if an employee can learn to operate on his/her own, then their performance and contribution will increase as well.
A good mentoring relationship is one where both the parties agree to share all the information at their disposal, ask as many questions as needed and disagree without fear of reprisals. Mentoring is indeed very subjective and there is a lot of good quality information that can help you decide which path to take. That being said, here are some awesome resources to get you started…
- Unlocking Potential: 7 Coaching Skills That Transform Individuals, Teams, and Organizations
- Manager development programs and how they factor into a company’s continued success
- 6 Topics You Should Cover in Your Mentoring Program
- Leadership mentoring: The key to developing and cultivating effective leaders
Give People Time for Personal Projects
Now that we got the basics covered, it’s time to get to the meat and potatoes of it all! As the idea behind a strong intrapreneurial culture is to tap into your team member’s own ideas and see if any value can be brought up.
Google’s now famous 20% time rule is a great example of what employees can accomplish if they are given support and freedom to work on their own project. Adsense, Gmail, Maps and Google Cardboard are all products that resulted from Google allowing its employees to work on personal projects for 20% of their employed time.
Google’s system is actually a version of 3M’s 15% rule which it came up with under the “innovate or die” mantra after the second world war. Atlassian is another company that has successfully implemented the 20% rule.
Think of how much innovation time you can allocate to your employees. It would be best to tie in an incentive benefit or a competitive angle to encourage people to find the best solutions. As innovation is a rather subjective topic, it would help if your employees knew exactly what would count as innovation and what won’t, otherwise you might end up with a lot of wasted time. Some ideas that you can try out are…
- Experimenting with emerging technologies to see if they offer value in a company sponsored sandbox environment.
- Increasing productive efficiency.
- Increasing customer satisfaction scores.
- Products that can augment or even supplement the company’s primary offering.
Attract People Looking to Start a Business
While inculcating entrepreneurs like traits in existing employees is always a good idea, finding people who are already halfway there will make your life easier. Consider adding how you have woven intrapreneurial culture into your company’s fabric in your marketing messages. Some angles to explore are…
- Offering a free workspace that values individual contributions.
- Sharing how employee insights and personal projects are celebrated and rewarded.
- Showing how individual contributions made a noticeable difference.
- Showing that your company is the perfect sandbox for fledgling entrepreneurs to strengthen their skills.
Most entrepreneurs are attracted to the idea of living life on their own terms or making a noticeable difference in the world or both. Since the idea of having an intrapreneurial culture is to allow people to explore freely, people who are sitting on the (entrepreneurship) fence would make the ideal employees, provided they are willing to join.
Use Online Collaboration Tools to Create a More Decentralized Workspace
Cloud enabled productivity technologies allow companies to delegate and track work regardless of wherever their team-members might be located. Needless to say, they present an incredible opportunity for companies looking to create an intrapreneurial culture.
Tools like Runrun.it enable you to build cross-border teams while addressing all of the drawbacks that come with remote work. Managers can get a quick bird’s eye view with customizable dashboards and spot inefficiencies as and when they crop up. Team-members can also collaborate with each other seamlessly and the fact that all documents, data and company knowledge is stored under one (digital) roof means that employees will no longer have to sift through a never ending collection of emails, spreadsheets and cloud drive accounts. Interested? Create your free account.