In an era of rapid and massive disruption, the ability to think like a startup and operate in a highly agile and creative way is nothing less than critical. As a result, plugging entrepreneurial thinking into the fabric of the enterprise is now critical.
Yet, one of the biggest problems organizations face on the path to becoming intraprenurial is that many employees spot opportunities for improvements but run into a brick wall. Oftentimes, according to Claudio Vandi, Innovation Programs director for Numa, a global startup incubator and accelerator headquartered in Paris, France, “They’re already using consumer technology that’s faster and better than what the organization has in place.”
Not only does the organization suffer when this innovation gap occurs, employees often become frustrated and, eventually, disillusioned. That may prompt highly skilled individuals to exit the firm.
Vandi, who has worked with organizations such as global food services giant Elior and the RATP Group, the public transportation operator of the Paris Metro, says that a key to building an effective intraprenurial framework is learning how to embrace the unknown.
“Too often, companies want to describe the project and have it mapped out before starting out. This doesn’t work within an intraprenurial framework.”
He suggests that CIOs and others looking to tap intraprenurialism focus on three key things:
*What is the company struggling to do today and where would it like to innovate? This encompasses technology, processes and user experience.
*Build a system that allows ideas to emerge. It’s critical to have a platform or framework to support intraprenurial development but also determine who is best equipped to participate in an initiative—and achieve buy-in—even if their ideas or projects aren’t pursued by the group or the enterprise.
*Seek outside aid. Vandi often brings leaders to Numa so that they can step away from daily firefighting mode, gain an outside-in perspective and get exposed to entrepreneurial methods along with new tools.
Vandi also suggests tapping multiple small cross-functional teams to tackle the same problem.
“You increase the odds that one team breaks through,” he said.
This may also help bypass the often impossible task of trying to sell a concept across the organization, and risking that the initiative loses steam over a period of weeks or months.
It’s vital for teams to tap the techniques used by accelerators, including holding demo days and investor days to keep key groups informed, receive feedback and promote buy-in.
Essentially, intrapreneurship is an alternative approach to project management, Vandi said.
Those who use it successfully evolve from traditional roadmaps to an ultrafast cycle of experiments, user feedback, testing, iterating and failing in order to illuminate a path to success.
“Innovation is everyone’s business within a company. It shouldn’t be exceptional for a team to do something innovative.”