When it comes to the arena of intrapreneurship, one man who’s really leading the way and working hard to grow interest in intrapreneurial strategy world-wide is Gareth Bullen. A thought leader on the topic, Gareth conducts regular keynote speeches on how leaders can become intrapreneurs, and is a practising professor of intrapreneurship at the London College of International Business Studies.
Intrapreneur Magazine caught up with Gareth to have a chat about this burgeoning strategy and where it can take individuals and businesses in the future.
Gareth, how do you think intrapreneurialism can help to transform an organisation from the inside out?
I see intrapreneurship as an holistic concept that understands that it is only by freeing all of the talents within an organisation, that you can be truly successful. If the senior team genuinely believe this, they have the ability to change an organisation to a community of the willing.
They can become so flexible that this community can be any shape that the challenge facing the business requires. Intrapreneurship allows people to manage themselves. Executives can, instead, spend time inspiring workers, narrating the direction they need to follow and describing the river the team must swim in. I believe the effect on performance, innovation, well-being and involvement when intrapreneurship is harnessed, is unlimited.
Can you give us one or more examples of the power of intrapreneurialism in the workforce?
An example I often talk about in my seminars is a small regional gas distribution network who were struggling to meet their legally binding minimum standards. They were plagued by low morale and poor performance and were offering extremely poor customer service.
However, they managed to turn things around. This was done through changing their leadership style from ‘parent to child’ to ‘adult to adult’, and by freeing their employees to improve the business with the often-stated mantra ‘If an idea is safe and legal, just do it.’
They were able, in a nine-month period, to become the best in their sector at customer service. They achieved an employee engagement score only experienced by some of the best retailers in the UK, and they won 10 national awards for customer service, innovation, and employee engagement.
Do you have any simple first steps for intrapreneurs wanting to start down this path?
I think the first thing to know is that everybody can be intrapreneurial. If you are a team leader or middle manager and you haven’t the power to change the whole organisation, go and transform your team or department.
Change your leadership style from ‘command and control’ to one of leadership and inspiration. Stop telling people how to do things and instead describe the destination the team are trying to get to. Allow them to find the best route there.
What is the state of play in intrapreneurship at the moment around the world?
I think it’s patchy. I see in Europe, because of a fear of wealth and power moving from the west to the east, a great hunger for a new way of working that uses all the talents in an organisation. In Africa, there is a new generation who are determined to change the way businesses work and are looking at intrapreneurship as their favoured solution. From my work in the UAE I’m amazed at the willingness of organisations to become more intrapreneurial as they strive to diversify their economies. So overall, I’m seeing a great energy and interest in a dynamic and exciting new way of working.
What do you see as the likely future of intrapreneurship?
I think if intrapreneurship develops into a holistic model for building a community within an organisation, where culture, leadership, colleague collaboration, and borderless cooperation are nurtured between all stakeholders, suppliers, customers, and competitors, there is a chance that intrapreneurship will become the intellectual driving force as we move through the 4th and 5th industrial revolution.
To find out more or to connect with Gareth, you can catch him on
LinkedIn – Gareth Bullen Intrapreneur
Twitter – @garethintra
In addition, you can email him on firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss the unique, live-streamed ILM intrapreneurial leader programme that is on offer.