Following on from my previous post on Intrapreneurship I’ll now share a few of key reasons I believe in this so strongly.
I see 3 major benefits of intrapreneurship for organisations. I’m sure you’ll recognise this split - the classic people, planet, profit.
However, I like many am eager to move away from this traditional way of thinking, and ‘CSR’ like narrative, and think of them all as one collective mission.
1. Your People, the imminent leaders and the future of Your organisation
As I have already made clear, future leaders are looking for more ways to have their desired impact; yet largely are confused by how to do this. They want the training, security and benefits of big companies, but also want to enjoy building on their own ideas.
To ensure mutual benefit, intrapreneurship can provide both with positive gains. Side projects are of course a great opportunity to showcase inventiveness and work on problems that mean something to employees, but they are also a brilliant training mechanism.
We hear time and time again that we must fail-fast and pivot quickly, yet when you’re being paid a handsome sum from another large company, the idea of failure, and likewise pivoting, is a difficult one to muster.
Intrapreneurship is therefore a happy medium for both; a way of creating strong, resilient and independent future leaders, who can both learn skills to add value to clients today, whilst helping the organisation pivot to the new economy, and new world of business.
Perhaps supporting employees’ ideas, and giving them space to test these, is the opportunity to practice leadership, failure and pivoting we are so regularly told is crucial for current and future success. This needs to be FAR more than training though, which leads me to my next point.
2. Your Clients & Your P&L
There is certainly money on the table here.
In a world where start-ups can outgrow 50-year-old companies, having an entrepreneurial mindset is a valuable asset.
Bureaucracy can delay the developing of disruptive ideas, but the resources available to corporations skyrocket the chances of forming successful ventures. Additionally, organisations are crying out for ways to become more sustainable, do more meaningful business, protect the planet and be better stewards. These are problems clients are asking for help with, and my generation are asking to work on.
While the profits may not be of huge value, why not begin testing new ideas and ways of working; starting small with innovation from within, with the intent to pay these ideas the respect of funding further down the line?
Why not encourage companies to open up about these problems, respect and embrace the workforce and encourage new ways of thinking? Company innovation challenges have been a popular example of this, but I feel they have only gone so far – more as training exercises than activities that are being given real esteem, with the potential of funding.
3. Our Planet
Point three, one that needs little explanation. We know we are facing challenges we can solve. We know we have ideas to solve them. Organisations literally have an army of employees with ideas of how to shape a better world – use this – see what they come up with!
The individuals that are working within companies that may not seem ethical, or worse are harming the planet, are likely to be able to see the challenges that are faced in getting better, or more specifically getting to net zero. These are the change-makers who may well have the ideas we need, and, will be rewarded by being inside the companies working to create a better world when the change happens.
Of course, the next question would be executing this. I like the idea but how can we implement this? This is something I am personally working on at the moment within my organisation, and would love to talk to other about this topic, as fundamentally I believe to truly achieve lasting success on this, a cross-company intrapreneurial ecosystem is required, combining the power of organisations large and small, the leaders and the led… watch this space.
My closing thoughts
Commerce exists as an extension of culture. The way our businesses and the people within them act is a reflection of the society we have created and are creating.
The evolution in our collective understanding of us, be it our mental health, the ecology and planet, or what drives us, should and will be mirrored in the companies we work in and help transform.
So, to you, the employee – my peers, millennials and gen-zers. Whilst we are in this period of transition and may well still work with companies we might not agree with, we should be learning from them on the side, and, if possible, create the change we wish to see. Rather than picking holes in companies, throwing stones and refusing to work with them, how might we instead look to these holes as solvable challenges, and work from within to find innovative ways to tackle them.
The message I am keen to show is that there is immense power in bringing the passion and social consciousness that so many have inside these companies. It is far easier to change the direction of a tanker or cruise ship to get on board and negotiate than throw stones from a dingy. We can contribute to the movements these companies are already going through - moving to more ethical, sustainable, environmental, equal, inclusive and collaborative companies.
Us ‘job-hoppers’ are frankly job-hoppers because I’m not sure we really know what it is we want; we just seem to know what we don’t want. Whilst in our search, we should see what we can build from within; and, if there’s a spark, or if there’s not, you’ll learn something – another dot on your page. You’ll either win, or you’ll learn…
In Simon Sinek’s book, The Infinite Game, he suggests that the true value of an organisation is measured by the desire others have to contribute to that organisation’s ability to keep succeeding – not just during times they are there, but well beyond their own tenure. Certainly, what Intrapreneurship is all about.