Intrapreneurialism could be described as a behaviour or a state of mind – the ability to work within an established business with an entrepreneurial flair. Intrapreneurs are disruptors, mavericks and trailblazers.
They are agile, innovative, and committed to progress.
Bringing the intrepreneurial mindset to traditional organizations isn’t easy.
Intrapreneurs often have to fight for vital changes. They can only act within the confines of their role and authority, usually having to go through internal approval and decision-making processes. Business cases and budget constraints can be the enemy of the intrapreneur’s passion for change. Intrapreneurs naturally want to innovate, however, some organisations have many people who don’t know how to or are uncomfortable with challenging the status quo. Organizations that are resistant to change will find it harder and harder to compete with innovative businesses. Customer expectations are changing as they become more accustomed to dealing with businesses that go out of their way to provide the best customer experience.
Many businesses operate in silos.Each silo has their own budget, their own targets and they don’t naturally collaborate. Silo thinking uses outdated processes and methodologies, which can get in the way of a seamless customer experience.
Often the enabler to innovation and improving the customer experience is technology. This could be from how the customer interacts with the business (such as ordering and support systems) or how well the business runs its internal day to day processes. Technology can support innovation in allowing teams of any size, in any location, to collaborate, capture ideas, create visibility throughout the business and to track progress.
Creating a culture of innovation requires commitment from leaders to empower others to be creative, and take risks. Innovation thrives on collaboration – whether through face to face brainstorming or using cloud solutions, such as idea management platforms and project boards. Any function of the business has scope for innovation, and an organisation that encourages and rewards innovation across all teams will suffer less from silo thinking and process paralysis.
For businesses to truly innovate, the key is looking at how to create efficiencies and harness ideas internally, and to constantly look for new ways to engage with customers in order to better understand their needs and expectations. Technology, such as apps and social media, allow businesses to easily and cheaply engage with customers.
Entrepreneurs listen closely to customers, and their agile business processes allow them to pivot easily to react to customer feedback and requests. This is harder to do on a large scale, but the concept can be adapted to the inevitable hurdle jumping required in the corporate world. Again, technology enables this to happen in large organisations – capturing and analysing real time data allows intrapreneurs to keep their finger on the pulse, for example being able to see customer reactions to new products and services, and being able to respond quickly. Technology allows communication and idea sharing across the organization – if a team in one location innovates successfully, their ideas can be shared and adapted in other parts of the organization.
Intrapreneurial thinkers can spot issues, see opportunity, and seize it. However, large organisations can sometimes slow down the implementation of innovative ideas because of approval processes or bureaucratic procedures. Technology, on the other hand, can help to speed up processes by providing current accurate data to support decisions, file sharing platforms to share information across the organisation, giving individuals transparency, ability to give feedback, and automated approval processes. Clearly, technology can be a great friend to intrapreneurs.