Liberating Leadership, Innovation and Creativity

Speak Up , Be Heard, Create Change With Kelly McAuliffe


There is room for intrapreneurialism in every business; From the family run shop with just a few employees, to large corporate firms and everything in between. There are some incredible people taking bright, bold, innovative ideas and implementing them for lasting, positive change and intrapreneurialism is now being embraced and encouraged within our government sector.

Despite the numerous and necessary rules and regulations, the Queensland Police Service has reinvented communication channels to invite every member of the organisation to speak up and be heard.

Kelly McAuliffe has been with the QPS for over 20 years, beginning her career as a general duties officer in 1997 and since working in varied capacity, including training. In 2016 she was asked to become a founding member of the Innovation Unit, whose primary goal was to “make policing simpler for the frontline, better for the bottom line and safer for all.”

The time is now . . .
make the change . . .
be the difference for you
and your people.

“We have been a very innovative organisation for a long time, this was now an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the innovative work that was happening in different pockets of the state and, where possible, scale it across the whole organisation,” Kelly said.

“The greatest achievement for me in this role was my involvement in the design and implementation of an idea management system that gave our people, regardless of their rank/level or location, permission to speak outside of the chain of command. This was very rewarding as you could see the light come on for people when they realised they had just as much to offer and were now being asked.”

This readiness to open the door for every member of the team to have their say on how the organisation can be improved is a breath of fresh air for intrapreneurship. So often, there are people with much more to offer than their day-to-day tasks but the fears, hierarchies and communication issues halt future-focused individuals before they have had a chance.

In just 12 months of implementing the idea management system, known as iCOP (ideas connecting our people), over 6,000 members had signed up. These members could then submit an idea for discussion, and other members would comment and vote on that idea. Popular and viable options were progressed through an implementation funnel.

“We saw members of the executive leadership team collaborating directly with constables from the frontline. This flipped the model of leadership from telling our people what to do to asking our people what we could do differently. We provided a space for our intrapreneurs to have a voice,” Kelly said.

This program won the International Ideascale Innovation Management Awards – Best Engagement Strategy 2018 and proved how widespread and valuable intrapreneurs are to any organisation. It also proved that anyone has the potential to meaningfully contribute to their workplace if given the opportunity.

“Anyone can be an intrapreneur; we all have the skills to think differently and look for better ways to do business. For this to happen though, there needs to be the right authorising environment, that safe feeling in any workplace that says, ‘you are just as important as anybody else’, the leadership at every level is critical… Collaboration requires integration and not domination.”

Kelly likens intrapreneurship to planting a seed. Sometimes, you need to plant a lot seeds for one to grow, but eventually people will realise that change is possible. Intrapreneurs need resilience, patience and an abundance of energy to keep planting those seeds, despite the odds.

The government sector can be difficult to create change from within due to the ‘risk adverse’ environment, so those at the forefront of innovation must be willing to strongly argue the ‘why’. Kelly also recommends starting small until your strategy is proven.

“It is about thinking smart, testing small and then scale. You can quite often mitigate risk by demonstrating value for something by presenting the minimal viable product, pilot this and showcase the benefits and scalability. The appetite to approve a small-scale project compared to a wholesale costly and time consuming ‘unknown project’ is much greater,” she said.

“It is important to appreciate the need (at times) for strict regulation around operations and there needs to be appropriate governance and risk assessments undertaken …however government organisations are essentially running a business, so to survive in today’s changing context, they need to think like a start-up and focus on the needs of the customer and employee.”

The power of the intrapreneur to motivate, energise and create valuable change to any organisation is strong, and the potential limitless. The QPS example is proof that no matter the governing systems in place and no matter the scale of the organisation, there are voices that need to be heard – including yours.

Kelly now also offers a consultancy service to share her skills and knowledge across a range of industries. Services are tailored to each client but include:

  • Time in motion analysis of the workplace – findings report and recommendations
  • Workshops
  • Coaching/mentoring
  • Workplace presentations

To find out more about Kelly’s consultancy service, contact: