An organisation that is able to create a positive internal ecosystem of an intrapreneurial workforce is able to grow and sustain itself in the long run
It is very difficult to tie down the adventurous spirit of entrepreneurs and anchor them to jobs. According to a 2018 report by Babson College, approximately 15 per cent of the adults in the US are entrepreneurs. In fact, to quote a 2020 report by Guidant Financial, 27 per cent of the employees of corporate America have cited dissatisfaction with their companies as a main reason for leaving their jobs and starting their own business venture.
India, being home to the youngest population in the world, is also restless. In 2017, a media report suggested that around 83 per cent of employees favour entrepreneurship over corporate jobs which, according to the Randstad Workmonitor survey, is higher than the global average of 53 per cent.
As is often said, one man’s loss is another man’s gain; similarly, the exodus of talented employees from the corporate world is a gain for the entrepreneurship ecosystem. This puts India Inc. in a precarious position and forces it to come out with innovative solutions to retain talent and put an end to such employee exit.
So why not offer employees what they are looking for by providing an entrepreneurial ecosystem within the organisation to satisfy their needs along with the job security? Such a concept —intrapreneurship — creates an environment within the organisation, including allocation of resources, for self-motivated employees to act like entrepreneurs. They take the lead to pursue product or service innovation, to improve the competitive advantage and economic performance of the firm.
In fact, intrapreneurship is not without its benefits. It opens up a firm to a world of innovation, which in turn improves its performance. And in doing so, improves and elevates the collective skills of the business. This ability to be agile and innovative need not be limited to small organisations, as it helps larger firms to discover their lost adaptability and capacity to innovate, mostly by concentrating on actions outside the purview of their core business activities, which help in value addition and developing the competitive position of the business.
Any organisation that encourages intrapreneurship creates a conducive environment to encourage new and fresh ideas, operates on cutting-edge technology, allows failures, ensures availability of resources, provides multi-disciplinary teams, provides appropriate time horizon, creates suitable rewards programmes and garners the support of the top management.
Researchers have come up with seven dimensions of intrapreneurship. The first being the process of innovation and the ability to create new products, services, methods, knowledge, expertise and techniques. The second dimension is the risk tolerance of the organisation and its courage to take strategic steps and make investment choices in an ambiguous environment in the face of possible failures. The third is proactiveness, which is essential to become pioneers in the field of their respective businesses. Fourth is the autonomy provided to individuals or groups to establish an idea or a concept. The creation of new products or services, new jobs, or new processes forms the fifth dimension.
The sixth one is strategic reorganisation to redefine the purpose and strategy of a business. The seventh and the final dimension is the competitiveness of the firm in challenging the competitors. Senior leadership should analyse, nurture and promote these aspects as they lead to improvement in the overall performance.
It is very important to identify and motivate intrapreneurs by creating systems of freedom, acknowledgement and incentives that encourage and empower them. Any inconsistency in these systems or a lack of enthusiasm from top management can discourage and disorient them.
An organisation that is able to create a positive internal ecosystem of an intrapreneurial workforce is able to grow and sustain in the long run. In addition to the organisational role in promoting intrapreneurship, it is the employees themselves who can make a difference, as they connect the management to development. Intrapreneurship is successful only as long as the intrapreneur is motivated and encouraged by the policies and principles that value innovation within a firm.
Globalisation and consistent groundbreaking changes in technology have made the business environment quite challenging. To survive in these tough times, businesses must constantly innovate and transform their products, services and models. Such an innovative culture accomplished by intrapreneurial ingenuity can help firms to improve performance, innovation, profitability and competitiveness.
In order to achieve superior company performance, motivate and retain talented staff, the senior leadership should integrate intrapreneurship into the overall organisational strategy. After all, there are no old roads to a new direction.