FUNCTIONING AS AN ENTREPRENEUR WITHIN AN ORGANISATION
Intrapreneurship is the practice of adopting and using entrepreneurial skills and approaches within an organization. This means using new methods, learning from setbacks, doggedly seeing projects through, and eventually transforming them into profitable ventures. Although the concept has been in practice for several years, it has now become increasingly relevant, given the need for one to add value to one’s job, as well as change with the times.
Today, work is increasingly about innovation and doing things differently to satisfy the customer base. Dull repetitious jobs are being replaced by machines and computers, leaving only human aspect to dealing with the shifting desire and needs of people in a world of rapidly emerging technical possibilities. In present day Nigeria, the more forward thinking and innovative Banks, virtually have whole branches run by machines. A lot of good jobs available now, require imagination and getting things done differently. Traditional bureaucratic expertise is not enough to achieve the rate of innovation needed to compete. What is required
is the skill of the entrepreneur? Below are attributes to achieve this:
MANIFEST THE ‘CAN DO SPIRIT’
People will follow the guy who is sure, and looks like he will win. You must be passionate about your project and wear it on your sleeves. Also, gain a deep understanding of what you want to achieve, demonstrate confidence, then go on and make it happen.
GET YOUR BOSS ON YOUR SIDE
It makes your work easier if you can get your boss to support you. But before you ask your boss to spend precious political capital on your behalf, ask yourself if you have made the job as easy as possible.
When your boss requests project resources from someone in another area, it’s going to be easier if you have pre-sold the idea to people who will do the work. Have you converted those people to your cause - are they supportive? Getting someone to lobby others on your behalf may be part of the solution, but it is not the place to begin.
PAINT A GOOD PICTURE; BUT ONLY SO FAR
It’s tempting, when visualizing the positive impact of your project, to tell the world about it, but the effect of your excitement may scare people. If, in its fully realized form, the implication of your project would change everything; the department, the job and the comfort of familiar ways of doing things, then you cannot blame people for being cautious.
If your project seems “too world-changing’, people tend to respond with delay tactics and request for more information, rather than action or help.
ASK RESOURCE OWNERS FOR ADVICE
The danger of premature glorification is neatly matched by the danger of premature request for resources. Ask too soon and there is a good chance you would get some version of “No!” Once someone has denied you resources, rationalization sets in: if they refuse to provide resources, then your idea must be bad. If it was good, they would have found a way to help.
This vicious circle of rejection can easily be turned around. Simply ask for some form of help that would not be refused. The request for help least likely to be refused is a request for advice. When someone gives you advice, they are contributing to your project. If they contribute to your project, one of two things must be true:
1. Your project is worthwhile, so their helping makes them good managers.
2. Your project is worthless and destructive, in which case helping is a poor use of time, and they are a poor manager.
SAY THANK YOU; EXPRESS GRATITUDE
Gratitude cements the value of what ever help you have been given, and can even erase hostility when assistance is sought again. When someone in a position of power criticizes the project of an intrapreneur, the intrapreneur takes good note; after some time and with a bit of dispassionate appraisal, the intrapreneur would find truth in some of the criticism. In some small way the plan is changed. The Intrapreneur now goes back to the critic and thanks him or her for identifying a problem that could have sunk the project. “Without your help, we might have…”
Your critic may have defined himself or herself as your enemy but you have reframed the criticism as a form of support. To balance things out they rationalize that there must be some good in your project. Few people can not resist the praise, if it is delivered with total sincerity. Thanking critics for their contribution sincerely requires the generosity of spirit to genuinely forgive and appreciate.
WORK IN CONCERT WITH OTHER PEOPLE; BUILD A NETWORK
Someone once said that man’s best possibility for self expression is with other men. Gone is the era of the lone ranger. The intrapreneur knows that when you are not in charge of what you need, your success depends on the quality of your relationship with other players. He is always alert to the feelings of others and distributes credit widely. “The more you give away, the more come back in the long run”
The Intrapreneurial warrior keeps members of “the coalition” fully informed, takes time to check up on everyone, and keeps relationships alive even when there is no immediate need for help.
BROADCASTING YOUR IDEA
It seems smart to “run your idea up the flagpole and see who salutes.” It makes sense, but it doesn’t work. Every innovation involves a bit of creative destruction; the new way replacing the old. Those who will benefit from the new order don’t really anticipate the implications of the change; and those whose privileged position could be challenged by the new order recognize this immediately, and come forward with their spears sharpened in opposition.
The lesson is this: Premature promotion of your ideas triggers the immune system. The grander you make your idea sound and the more widely you distribute it, the more people it will frighten.
STICK WITH YOUR PROJECT THROUGH THICK…
Every innovation passes through dark and discouraging days.
Intrapreneurial challengers don’t give up easily. They find ways around obstacles and will not buckle under stress.
There are fake intrapreneurs who only want to head large projects with an impressive staff roaster. They jump from project to project depending on what is in favor. If the project hits a snag, they blame others and move on.
True intrapreneurs, like entrepreneurs, find the capacity and grace to stick with a project until it succeeds.
• Intrapreneurial Warriors Versus Traditional Managers: Giford Pinchot
• Creating an Entreprenuerial Mindset: Rita Gunter Mcgrath & Ian C. Macmilan
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