How To Foster Intrapreneurial Culture?
How can organisations leverage this talent to foster a deep-rooted culture that supports internal entrepreneurship?
Based on interviews we conducted with intrapreneurial leaders at tech, sportware and entertainment large organisations alike, nurturing an intrapreneurial culture is a five-step process:
1. Blended Teams
Bringing cross-functional teams together is able to generate fresh ideas and unlock hidden entrepreneurial talent.
We interviewed Emily Haynes, Head of Incubation at Pentland Brands for the likes of Speedo, Lacoste, Ellesse, Kickers, Karin Millen and other leading sportswear brands, on this topic. She pointed out that “you don’t have to know how to draw in order to be creative.” For example, with the support of Studio Zao, Pentland Brands united 60 employees from HR, manufacturing, R&D, finance and marketing to form multi-disciplinary teams that pitched nine ventures to their senior innovation leadership team. After just two months, three of these ventures collected enough validation to receive funding from the executive board to proceed to prototype creation and testing.
Truth be told, innovators do not work in silos, rarely have all the resources they need to validate their ideas from day-one. Embedding intrapreneurs within cross-functional teams is a sure-fire way to generate game-changing ideas.
2. Alignment between Innovation and Strategic Direction
The key to progress with innovative ideas is to make sure the senior management team is fully committed to the idea of instilling intrapreneurship across their organisation, and KPI willing to be targeted. During our projects, everyone from the Chief Operating Officer to the Digital & Innovation Director was on board from day one. When starting an innovation journey, it is extremely important to involve senior executives and align any innovation programme to tackle key business objectives.
Uniting the senior leadership team will drive innovation efforts forward and give people access to vital resources along the way. While it can be tempting to start innovation processes from an idea, solid senior support is only granted for the most pressing challenges the business is facing at any moment in time. As with all successful entrepreneurship, innovators start with problems and generate ideas to find the best possible solutions.
3. A Risk-Taking Workforce
Corporate innovation requires stepping out of a comfort zone and exploring uncharted paths.
We met with Alastair Cox, former Head of Google Creative Academy, to discuss comfort zones. As he was directing a dedicated lab for creating brands with Google’s clients, he had to ask his team to abandon their ‘business as usual’ mindset to focus on the problems their clients were struggling to solve.
Finally, innovation managers should select employees with the right innovation attitude by putting them out of their comfort zone. Immersing employees with hands-on roles at the beginning of an innovation programme will immediately identify who has the spark to be a successful intrapreneur.
4. Shared Values
Having an internal framework of values is extremely important to allow intrapreneurs to be agile and flexible enough to deliver innovation.
A set of shared values helps making innovation feel less ambiguous, and is able to empower employees to take autonomous decisions and risks — knowing that their employees are doing the right thing for the company and their managers.
5. Celebrate Success and Learnings
Setting incentives and rewards for innovation activities helps overcome the issue and obstacle intrapreneurs face every day.
Promotions may be tied to innovation results, so that employees can unleash their creative freedom, and in-house entrepreneurial talent can be retained.
Google’s Creative Academy celebrated even the smallest things such as ideas, experiments, or even failures which they channeled into learnings. By simply collaborating as a team of employees on a discovery journey, Google successfully boosted morale and celebrated personal initiatives to foster innovation outcomes.