This is the reason why managements have begun to invest significant resources in tools from the world of innovation and integrate them into the organization. Innovation management in companies and organizations is a new domain. It deals with the integration of knowledge and tools from the world of strategy, entrepreneurship and organizational development, in a way that systematically improves performance in new and diverse ways.
So, How Do You Reinvent Your Cheese?
In the last decade, many efforts have been made by researchers and executives to crack the 'secrets of innovation'. Some of them tried to understand Steve Jobs' way of thinking, others wanted to improve performance to the level of leading companies, but most of them dealt with the question: How do my organization and I remain relevant to the world? The result: identification of a number of proven tools for accelerated development of organizations and companies in complex market conditions; from working with external partners on detecting ideas, to competitions and challenges for student groups or researchers, and even to cooperation with startups. But, as with any subject relating to an organization's strategy, there is no contingency plan that is suitable for everyone and, of course, replicating methods from one organization to another, is usually a recipe for failure.
Innovation management begins with understanding the strategic-managerial map of the organization or company, from which it is possible to embark on a plan for an innovation-mix specifically suited to them. One of the most important and useful tools is an intra-organizational entrepreneurship.
‘intrapreneurship ' – a Contradiction in Terms?
Entrepreneurship is perceived, by most of us, as the launch of a groundbreaking startup initiated by a few conscientious founders sitting around the kitchen table or, in a more up-to-date edition, in one of the co-working spaces on Rothschild Boulevard.
Ostensibly, a complete contradiction of the procedures and workloads common in 'standard' companies. Entrepreneurship is the ability to develop new business-social-economic activities, and it usually occurs in independent projects. Recently, however, it appears that entrepreneurship that takes place within organizations embodies immense potential. For example, GMAIL, Google's successful email service, began as the personal 'curiosity project' of Paul Buchheit in 2001, and grew to be the most common email address in the Western world. In the same way, the colorful POST-IT sticky notes also began their way as the personal project of Arthur Fry, when working in 3M, who predicted the potential of small paper notes incorporating a 'weak adhesive' strip, in our everyday life. These success-stories are part of a work-method common in large and successful companies, that encourage people within the organization to float ideas for potential, allowing them to develop the concepts inside the firm.
Intrapreneurship is a mechanism that enables new projects and ideas to grow within an existing firm. The fruits of intrapreneurship are new products and/or new business lines and/or the improvement of work-methods, all of which grow from ideas of any/all employees in the company.
Is it possible to develop intrapreneurship in a mature organization?
The intuitive answer is no. The mature organization is usually large, well-established and solid, and cannot easily be transformed into a startup, given that most of its workers and executives probably do not have an entrepreneurial nature. However, reality proves that this simple and intuitive answer is wrong. The correct, short answer is yes: mature organizations can develop an intrapreneurship ability.
In fact, the routine of developing and cultivating intrapreneurship is integral to the managerial reality of most quality growth companies (Google and Facebook are just two more familiar examples).
The learning and analysis of these successes has given rise to two conclusions: a) it is possible,
b) today, we know how to do it!
Building capability for intrapreneurship is based on two axes:
the first is to include employees' entrepreneurial abilities. The second is to build an organizational infrastructure for developing the entrepreneurship that stems from the team.
It is important to build on this new capability within the organization, in coordination with the organizational strategy, its capabilities and resources, and the dynamics of the business environment. Thus, good ideas will grow in synergy with the firm and the market.
But, Is it Worthwhile?
The discussion of investment in new projects, and the associated risks/chances, are a central subject on the desks of senior executives. And rightly so. It is clear that no investment means no growth, and the choice between the different alternatives is a difficult one. However, from the range of alternatives for maintaining the pace of organizational development, the choice of development of intrapreneurship, is perhaps the most effective for most organizations, for a few reasons…
Firstly, most organizations don't have the infrastructure or resources to develop innovation through investment in startups, nor do they have the breathing space in which to germinate rough ideas arising from methods of open innovation. Intrapreneurship requires relatively modest resources in comparison to other alternatives. Secondly, intrapreneurship relies on the existing staff. Most of this team is well aware of the work-methods and the regulatory or operational limitations of the field. Therefore, ideas that grow from the staff are more substantial and more relevant in terms of realization.
Finally, research shows that in organizations where there is a culture/work-method that supports intrapreneurship, the workers feel a higher sense of security and actually prefer this type of work-place. This way, we will profit from good projects, and also from a high level of satisfaction and, thus, a better preservation of workers, especially those who are important for us to maintain in a hyper-competitive environment.
So, How to Do it Right?
Development of intrapreneurship in companies and organizations is a worthwhile, yet complex task. Success of the process requires, in the first stage, management support – still without a high budgetary commitment, but with a spirit of backing and tolerance for the process. Then it's possible to establish a "highly motivated professional team". Those whose hearts beat to the drum of entrepreneurship but who have also acquired the necessary knowledge and tools. This team will take upon itself two central tasks: to improve the capabilities of the employees who are already interested in developing ideas, and to build a mechanism that will help the organization to enhance the same ideas and take them from inception to realization at a level suited to the organizational strategy. In fact, the 'intrapreneurship team' is the intermediary between the organization's desire to evolve and the desire of its people to realize ideas via work-methods borrowed from the world of entrepreneurship that have been adapted to the corporate world.
The Innovation Capsule
In order to develop intrapreneurship and promote innovation processes in organizations, Lahav Executive Development produced the capsule – a short and intensive application solution that drives the creation of a targeted and practical product that can be implemented instantly and is adapted to the current and future reality of the company, organization, or business unit. A capsule is a guided process that combines focused-knowledge components while emphasizing active guidance, so that the analysis, status assessments and solutions come from the participants, unlike solutions coming from an external source outside of the organization. This creates an organizational commitment to the process and better ensures its success. For the duration of the capsule application, the organization and its managers are exposed to the forefront of academic and practical knowledge, during which they will hold discussions to internalize the unique organizational needs and the solution required, to create and design a sustainable and innovative organizational response that will lead to a new reality for the organization.