9th March: Intrapreneurship – Empowering Your People For Success
While we can all point to entrepreneurs within our communities, we are less familiar with the term ‘intrapreneur’. Coined in the late seventies, the lesser used term describes an employee who possesses an entrepreneurial mindset and who is given the opportunity to innovate within the structure of an existing organisation, leveraging its resources and capabilities and most importantly, its support!
Taking place at the RDI Hub and MC’d by Donagh Kiernan (CEO of Tenego and Vice Chairperson, Tech Industry Alliance) our latest TechBrew event focused on how intrapreneurship can empower employees and teams for success. In this blog, we have summarised the key take-aways from our expert speakers:
- Karl Aherne, Chief Operating Officer, Fexco
- William Dalton, Vice President & Managing Director, Europe (VicOne is a Trend Micro subsidiary)
- Gillian Whelan, Chief Commercial Officer, Aspira
Innovation in their DNA
Having all taken very diverse and varied paths along their career journeys, including stints in the fast-food industry, banking, retail and start-ups, our speakers all share one attribute – an intrinsic need to challenge the status quo is wired into their DNA. Sharing stories from their professional lives, there were many common threads in how they’ve constantly strived to positively disrupt processes, products, and business models in the pursuit of innovation. So just what makes an intrapreneur? Here are just some of the common traits our speakers identify with and see in the change-makers and innovators they’ve encountered:
- Opportunistic: Intrapreneurs are not satisfied with the way things are done and are always looking for ways to improve them.
- Customer-centric: By putting the customer first, they can develop products and services that are truly innovative and valuable.
- Risk-taking: Innovation requires experimentation and not every idea will be successful but by taking calculated risks, they are able to push the boundaries of what is possible.
- Curious: They are open minded and inquisitive. They ask the right questions and actively seek out opportunities to expand their knowledge and skills.
- Collaborative: innovation requires collaboration and teamwork. They can work effectively with others across different functions and departments both internally and externally and build strong relationships in the process.
From individual to organisation – creating the right culture for intrapreneurship
Moving from innovation at an individual level to an organisational level requires an entire shift in the mindset of the organisation. Discussing some of the key concepts to embrace and cultivate the right culture for intrapreneurship involves creating a culture and structure that supports innovation and entrepreneurial thinking. While the steps and approaches are varied, here are some critical concepts that came to the fore from all our speakers:
Safe to fail
Creating an environment where employees feel comfortable taking smart risks and trying new ideas without fear of negative consequences is one of the first steps in embracing a culture of innovation. The main aim here is to create a culture of experimentation and learning, where employees can test and iterate on new ideas in a supportive and collaborative environment. By providing the necessary resources, support, and guidance to help employees pursue their ideas such as funding, mentorship, technology/tools, organisations can build a supportive culture where both success and failure is celebrated, as failure is seen as a learning opportunity rather than a negative outcome.
Defining parameters for intrapreneurial projects is very important and where possible should be co-created with the intrapreneur. Factors to consider include objectives, KPIs, target market, budget, timelines etc. which can provide intrapreneurs with a clear understanding of the scope and expectations for their projects. This can help to increase the likelihood of success and ensure that intrapreneurial projects are aligned with the overall objectives of the organisation.
Get an External Viewpoint
External viewpoints can bring fresh ideas and perspectives to intrapreneurial projects, which can help to spark innovation and creativity. Our speakers encouraged engaging with external experts and consultants who can provide valuable insights into industry trends and best practices, which can help intrapreneurs to develop more informed strategies. And most importantly, external viewpoints can provide validation for intrapreneurial projects, helping to build support and momentum within the organization.
Top- down approach
When the senior leadership team within an organization actively encourages and supports innovation and intrapreneurship, employees are far more likely to feel empowered and supported in pursuing new ideas. This approach involves creating a culture that supports intrapreneurial initiatives, provides resources and support for employees to pursue new ideas, and sets clear goals and objectives for intrapreneurship within the organization.
The benefits far outweigh the risk!
Wrapping up, Donagh summarised and highlighted some of the key points from the session. It all pointed to one thing, in today’s constantly evolving world, innovation is at the heart of our world’s most successful companies. Managing the process of innovation, providing the culture to originate new ideas and recognising and fostering the intrapreneurs in your organisation are critical to the future survival of most businesses. Benefits include:
- It helps organisations stay competitive by creating new products or services that meet changing customer needs and behaviours.
- Efficiency gains through the development of new processes that save time or money.
- Resilience – intrapreneurs can help organizations stay innovative by generating new ideas and challenging the status quo. This can lead to a culture of innovation within the organization, which can help it adapt to changing market conditions.
- Talent attraction and retention – employees who are given the freedom to innovate and pursue their ideas are more likely to be engaged and satisfied with their work. This can lead to lower turnover rates and a more productive workforce.
Your people are your organisation’s most valuable innovation asset – you just need to empower them!
Enjoyed these insights? Join us at our next in person TechBrew where you’ll have access to more than just highlights! Our TechBrew events focus on the warts and all stories from our communities – sharing the stories of successes, failures, and everything in between to help you on your scaling journey.
The March TechBrew was a collaboration between Tech Industry Alliance | Tralee Chamber | Cork Chamber. With thanks to sponsors: Munster Technological University, National Software Centre (NSC), Cork Chamber Skillnet. Thanks again to our amazing speakers, our MC, our sponsors, our hosts at the RDI Hub and to everyone who attended our event.