Discipline and innovative thinking. These are two of the attributes that define entrepreneurs, regardless of whether they act independently or as members of an organization.
Corporate entrepreneurship is a key part of improving a company’s levels of efficiency and innovation. And intrapreneurs, inside organizations, have the ability to take risks, generate innovative ideas and adapt to any environment swiftly, since–as highlighted in this article published by Forbes–they are “employees who think like entrepreneurs”.
So, if intrapreneurs are that valuable, why not support them and give them visibility in companies?
The truth is, as stressed by the article, that companies have so many departments that they often find it difficult to create a cohesive culture that allows these employees to grow. And many times, a company’s outsourcing policy will limit its own employees’ talent and potential without knowing it.
How to create a culture of innovation through intrapreneurship.
Driving isolated actions that listen to employees and increase their engagement can provide momentary benefits for organizations but will hardly lead to true intrapreneurs. To promote corporate entrepreneurship we must stir foundations, commit to a cultural change or encourage specific corporate programs that whet the appetite for innovation among employees. The article mentioned above summarizes certain steps to achieve this:
1. Promote role reversals.
Why insist on keeping an employee stuck in a role that is not right for him or her? People should occupy positions that help them make the most of their talent. Organizations with rigid structures, with isolated silos, hold back the development of internal talent and resist the appearance of a new management model based on collaboration and distributed knowledge.
2. Establish a reward system.
Everyone likes to feel recognized. Rewards (not necessarily material rewards) are an effective, positive feedback for innovation. They also play a key role in employee engagement and in creating autonomy for them as intrapreneurs.
3. Bring together corporate and personal needs.
Companies frequently create work roles that place employees in a box: they are assigned tasks that do not match their innate talents. That is why, to create intrapreneurs, companies should invest time and resources in the process of describing a job function and aligning an employee’s talent and needs with the company’s, so that passion may nurture change and sustain corporate innovation.
Along with these three values, the author of the article mentions other more traditional mechanisms that can promote intrapreneurship, like the development of a wage and/or hiring policy that rewards and values risk-taking.
Dealing with an uncertain context that seems here to stay is forcing companies, as well as employees, to be in a permanent beta state.
Intrapreneurship programs: when innovation start from within.
Corporate entrepreneurship is winning support in the world of large enterprises. 86% of companies in Spain say they execute actions in this direction, according to the study “Gacelas y elefantes bailan sin pisarse” [Gazelles and elephants dance without stepping on each other] by Centro Internacional Santander Emprendimiento (CISE, 2018). The need for swift transformation, and not always with all the desired resources, is making more and more companies turn to corporate intrapreneurship programsto encourage their employees to take part in the change within their companies. Santalucía Seguros and Calidad Pascual are two examples of this movement, and of how innovation has become an inherent need in any sector and industry [download the case studies in pdf for Santalucía Seguros and Calidad Pascual].
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