Category Archives: Intrapreneurship

The Intrapreneurial Researcher: an interview with Professor Nicholas Procter

NICHOLAS_PROCTERThis week’s interview is with Professor Nicholas Procter of the University of South Australia.  Professor Procter is Chair: Mental Health Nursing and Convenor of the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Research Group within UniSA’s Sansom Institute for Health Research.

The group led by Professor Procter is highly regarded within the higher education and mental health sectors for its applied and interventionist orientation to research and teaching.  The group operates using a communities of practice framework which involves working collaboratively with mental health consumers, clinicians and sector managers to advance research, knowledge transfer and community engagement in mental health.

Professor Procter is currently Chief Investigator responsible for the management of more than $3.5m in grants from the Australian Research Council, the National Health and Medical Research Council, state and federal governments to build mental health research and practice capacity and further mental health and substance abuse related research in South Australia, nationally and internationally, tackling key mental health issues of society.

In this interview Professor Procter explains his personalised approach to his research, how he looks beyond taken-for-granted assumptions, and the importance of authentic conversations.

Q. You have a strong focus on a “person-centred approach” through your research, teaching, publications and practice.  How does this personalised approach affect what questions you ask yourself before beginning a new initiative?

A.  It begins with thinking about the best way to connect.  While we have plenty of electronic means of communicating, it really does come down to the experience that another person has when contact is made, so I begin by thinking about what works best for the person I am co-creating the new initiative with: I put myself in their shoes.  I demonstrate that I hear what they are saying.  I think it best to build the relationship first and then try to identify how best to create shared value.

Q. You have said that one of the greatest lessons you learnt from a mentor was to look beyond taken-for-granted assumptions.  Why is that so important and how do you put it into practice?

A.  Leaders at all levels should be open to self-scrutiny and this means looking beyond taken-for-granted assumptions and the extent that they may be a block to getting things done.  I work a lot with people who are considered ‘vulnerable’ in our society.  It is true that many people with a mental health condition are vulnerable to such things as physical illness, abuse, neglect and perhaps even violence from other people.  At the same time it’s been my experience to be inspired by the resilience and remarkable coping with adversity that people, for example in suicidal crisis or with a mental illness have.  So my approach is a reflective and dynamic one.

Q. The building and maintaining of relationships plays a central part in enabling you to create impact in the mental health care field. What advice can you give others, based on your experience, about how to do this successfully?

A.  Many people tell me there is a need for strong and effective leadership in the mental health sector.  Leadership opportunities made available to me through my work at the University of South Australia are best realised with government and non-government sectors through having authentic conversations.  People with lived experience of mental illness tell me that they want to feel valued and respected when this happens.  They also tell me that when conversations are inauthentic that they are often left feeling misunderstood by others – including some well-meaning health professionals.  So on that basis building and maintaining relationships in the mental health field relies upon authentic conversations, communicating respect and showing warmth. Respect for both mental health consumers and health professionals is a conduit to trust. Having trust reduces ambiguity and builds leadership capability within the sector.

Q.  As a researcher leader, how do you approach the issue of sustainability in what you hope to achieve?

A.  Sustainability is at the heart of how I conceptualise the value proposition.  It relies heavily on local and global pattern recognition.  Some time back I secured a mental health grant for $450,000 over three years.  Within 18 months of the project our team secured an additional $300,000 in funding.  This added an additional two years to the project.  Additional funding and permanent work was to follow.  Success also came down to having relationships for longer term at the forefront of every interaction as well as a solid team approach.

Thank you Professor Nicolas Procter for your time.  For more information on Professor Procter’s work visit http://www.unisanet.unisa.edu.au/staff/Homepage.asp?Name=nicholas.procter. For any further questions on thinking big, feel free to email me personally at emma@emmabeames.com.au.

 

The Intraprenuerial Researcher – an interview with Professor Andrew Beer

Andrew-Beer

This week’s interview is with Professor Andrew Beer of the University of Adelaide.  Professor Beer is Director of the Centre for Housing, Urban and Regional Planning – its vision is to undertake and disseminate research on housing, cities and regions for the betterment of society.

The Centre led by Professor Beer, is highly acclaimed for the incredibly practical and immediately useable outputs it creates.  Here Professor Beer discusses his background, the connection between social sciences and entrepreneurship, and his unique approach to outcome-based research.

Q.  The work your Centre engages is renowned for being very impact focused, with the research conducted not just being theoretical but accessible for immediate implementation. That is – you have been very strategic in being clear on a problem and providing a workable, realistic solution.  This is not something researchers are typically associated with, yet it’s an approach that is in high demand.  How have you been able to achieve this so successfully?

A.  I didn’t start out working at a University but came from a background in government. Outcomes were very important and I carried that experience with me.  I became an academic not with a specific career path or search for status in mind but because I enjoyed researching, thinking, answering questions and then, providing a practical solution. It’s not a better or worse approach than being theoretical or idealistic – it’s just how I like to work.

When working with clients we sometimes need to help reframe the problem so that the answer is researchable.  And then we aim to provide a solution which can be implemented.  We would never offer an impractical recommendation…

It is important to really listen to your client and stakeholders and seek constant feedback.  You also need to be accepting of change, for example even in the delivery of our results, the format needs to be accessible and presented in a method consistent with how information is currently consumed by your intended audience.  We always keep our end-user in mind and constantly confirm that our assumptions about them are correct.

Q.  Was there a standout change which occurred as a result of your research which brought you the most satisfaction? 

A.  In terms of stand outs, perhaps the work my team and I conducted in relation to the closure of Mitsubishi, a major automotive plant in Adelaide, South Australia and the effects this had on the well-being of workers and their families including their health, housing and the community. The study was conducted over a three  year period and the final report was completed in 2006.  Based on the findings practical, impact orientated recommendations were made and subsequently adopted by government. What is even more gratifying is that report continues to be regularly requested and referred to by policy makers and media.  It remains a relevant tool for assisting in providing better outcomes when a community suffers from mass redundancies and retrenchments.

Q.  When the subject of using “entrepreneurial skills” as an academic in the area of social sciences, what has been your experience?

A. The culture of social sciences has been to not see it as commercial in that it does not produce hard intellectual property such as patents but rather know how.  However we need to recognise that what we are producing is knowledge-based services.

In light of predictions that knowledge and the service industries will push economic growth the way manufacturing and resources used to – the question we need to ask ourselves is “What form will our services take and how will they be disseminated?”. It’s an area where innovative thinking and the creation of new business models need greater focus.

Social science academics have a major role to play in addressing social, environmental and economic challenges. It’s time to combine the functions they already serve, which are;

  • being holders of; knowledge, history, networks and connections (as governments and industry players come and go); and
  • providing a voice for communities, special interest groups, intuitions and individuals;

with entrepreneurial and enterprise skills to increase the impact, engagement and sustainability of their expertise for the betterment of society.
Q.  For early career researchers do you have any advice on how to distinguish themselves and create real impact through their academic life?

A.  Whatever area you are focusing on at any one time be it teaching, research (both theoretical or applied), writing publications, giving presentations or engaging with the community and industry – you need to ensure you bring quality to what you do and ensure you are adding value.  Don’t just go through the motion.

If you want to increase your opportunities to work directly with public, private or not-for profit organisations you need to get out your door and start talking to people.  Engage with the stakeholders and customers in your discipline and start building relationships. You might do this through offering free services initially; providing a presentation; going on a committee. But again – only do so if you can add value, otherwise you are wasting their time and yours.

It is also important to make sure you carefully think about and be clear on what you are willing and not willing to do. Make sure you are strategic with your time and think through the long term implications some affiliations might negatively have on career.

So, set boundaries; ask yourself “how can I best contribute?”.  Ensure that you are adding value, bringing your skill set (know your weaknesses and strengths), and follow through on commitments.

Thank you Professor Andrew Beer for your time.  For more information on the Centre for Housing, Urban and Regional Planning please visit https://www.adelaide.edu.au/churp/.  For any further questions on thinking big, feel free to email me personally at emma@emmabeames.com.au.

The Intrapreneurial Researcher – an interview with Professor Karen Reynolds

Professor Karen Reynolds
As mentioned last week, over my next few posts I will provide case studies of Intrapreneurial Researchers, the first of these being Karen Reynolds, Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Flinders University and Director of the Medical Device Partnering Program in South Australia.


Q.  It was through your vision that the Medical Device Partnering Program (MDPP) in South Australia was created.  What problem did you see needed solving and how was it being addressed – if at all?

A.  I developed the MDPP in an attempt to stimulate and facilitate collaboration between research institutions and industry to promote innovation in medical devices.  The MDPP was structured to address the barriers to collaboration by providing a market-driven model for research that develops links with industry and end users from the outset, identifying opportunities for stakeholders to work together to achieve mutual benefits, and providing guidance and assistance through the development and commercialisation pathway.  The Program provides a transparent model for collaboration and streamlined mechanisms for research and development, drawing on the breadth of capabilities from its partner network.

Q.  How did you start building momentum for the MDPP?

A.  We initiated a consultative discussion with stakeholders from within South Australia’s medical device community including all three publicly-funded South Australian Universities.  A collaborative bid was then put forward to the State Government, through the Premier’s Science & Industry Fund (PSRF) and we successfully launched the Program in mid-2008.  Since the initial PSRF funding, the MDPP has attracted continued investment and given the tremendous interest from interstate organisations we are currently working towards extending the Program nationally.

Building momentum for MDPP projects specifically has been relatively easy.  Industry and researchers alike have recognised value in the program, and there has been overwhelming enthusiasm shown by companies to work with researchers and to invest in early stage products or ideas.

Q.  What significant impact has the MDPP made?

A.  The medical device industry is made up predominantly of small enterprises.  Whilst these companies tend to have very innovative ideas, in many instances they don’t have the necessary research and development resources, or contact with experts from the research and clinical communities.  The MDPP has provided a portal to access technical and clinical expertise and has opened the doors for these companies to obtain end-user feedback much earlier in the development process.

The MDPP has provided evidence that – armed with a simple, transparent and effective model for engagement, barriers to collaboration and innovation can be overcome.  Traditionally competing parties are now demonstrating that they are willing to engage and work together collaboratively, resulting in successful outputs.

Q.  What has the MDPP meant for your career and for what you wanted to achieve professionally?

A.  In establishing the MDPP, my personal driver was to reduce the barriers of collaboration between industry and researchers, to increase the relevance of university research to see new and innovative medical devices reach the market, and ultimately to improve health outcomes.  While my career has certainly become far less traditional from an academic perspective, I believe the impact that the MDPP has had been more far-reaching than if I had continued on a very traditional academic path. I have enjoyed the privilege of interacting with a very diverse range of people, and being able to provide input into many new medical device concepts.

Q.  What advice would you give to other researchers who want to “think big” in terms of how they can effect change in their area of expertise?

A.  Be able to communicate with a variety of audiences, consider all stakeholder expectations and desired outcomes; be willing to compromise and adapt.  Don’t be afraid to try something new, and be willing to drive change; you never know – it might work!  In the environment we work where we are judged against traditional metrics, it can sometimes be hard to put your own personal research and aspirations aside in order to see other opportunities succeed.  However with hard work, perseverance and determination you can succeed.

Thank you Professor Karen Reynolds for your time.  For more information on South Australia’s Medical Device Partnering Program please visit http://www.flinders.edu.au/mdpp/.  For any further questions on thinking big, feel free to email me personally at emma@emmabeames.com.au.

The Intrapreneurial Researcher

intrapreneurial researcher



Research institutions, startups and entrepreneurs have been linked for many decades.  As Brad Feld explores in his book Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City, a research institution can be a catalyst for entrepreneurial endeavours.


Whether it be;

  • the birthplace of a startup (Google was born at Stanford University, Facebook at Harvard);
  • researcher expertise and publication of findings for all to access; or
  • the inventor researchers, creating technologies and breakthroughs leading to new drugs, products, devices, methodologies, processes, platforms and understandings for the greater good of society.

But to generalise, the majority of researchers don’t think of themselves as entrepreneurial, or  want to – even if they are making breakthroughs in their industry.

Main motivations for researchers include career progression, furthering their research area of interest, standing among their peers, publication and attraction of grant funding. Where would entrepreneurship feature in this? It doesn’t, especially when their area of expertise is thought of as not “commercial” like say drug discovery, but rather “social” – such as shaping policy or knowledge building in areas such as humanities or behavioural science.

However whether a researcher’s area of expertise lends itself to a more commercial outcome rather than a social one, all researchers can benefit by applying some intraprenuerial thinking to take a fresh look at what they want to achieve.

Thinking like a startup could bring a new perspective and provide a previously unconsidered path for greater impact – all while still meeting the underlying motivators listed above.

The next few posts will explore some case studies where researchers have approached their research with an intraprenuerial mindset which was;

  • end user/impact focused;
  • strategic in identifying and building relationships with key partners;
  • clear on how the outcomes will be delivered;
  • realistic about sustainability and ongoing capacity to scale; and
  • conscious of their organisation’s goals and strategic focus while working within its framework to achieve successful research in which results achieve a real impact.

The above approach is a truly intraprenuerial one and I hope that the examples I will be sharing, where using entrepreneurial thinking and techniques may not have initially been an obvious answer, will spark some new ideas in relation to a current or upcoming projects you may have on the go.

And if you are or know of any shining examples of intraprenuerial researchers (don’t be modest!) I would love to hear about it via Twitter @emmabeames or email emma@emmabeames.com.au.

Pitching Your Intrapreneurial Idea

pitchingConcluding this workshop series are some tips on pitching your validated intraprenuerial idea to upper management.  When preparing to pitch, give yourself plenty of planning and preparation time.  Aim to blow your audience away, not make them wish they could get those 30 minutes of their life back again.

You’ve done the work and you’re clear on the strategic direction of your organisation.  You’ve gotten your approvals to explore and validate your idea, spoken to users, worked out your business model, organised your legals and most importantly, you have created your minimum viable product.  It is Crunch Time.

Don’t just send an email, take another leaf out of a start-up’s book and prepare to present.

Here are the four essential steps on how to deliver a killer pitch.

1.      Be clear on what outcome you want
Start with the end in mind and plan what you want to happen.  Do you need more time, resources, cash, or permission to partner?  Or do you just need the green light to roll out your new product, service or process?  Whatever it is – your pitch should provide the foundation for making the desired outcome a no-brainer.  Be realistic, be honest, and be hopeful.

2.      Don’t leave them wondering
Have you ever been to a presentation where you are halfway through it and you still have no idea what product they are talking about or what problem it will solve?  I’ve been to some where even at the end I have no idea what is going on!  Make sure you have a one sentence explanation which answers both those questions and say it at the beginning, in the middle and at the end. Try it out on your friends, family and colleagues.  Do they get it in one sentence? If not, keep refining it until they do.

3.      The all-important WIIFM (What’s In It For Me)
You know what you want and how you’ll benefit, but your pitch needs to illustrate what is in it for your organisation and their stakeholders.  You need it to appeal to their needs.  Keep the key decision maker/s at the forefront of your mind the whole time you are planning what to present.  Show your passion for the project, but make it all about them. So – just to be clear, say it with me “It is not about me, it is all about them”.

4.      Tell A Story
Research shows that our minds engage differently when we are hearing a story as opposed to being shown research (don’t just take my word on it – Google it.  It’s pretty interesting reading!).  If you’re very clever, you can present facts and figures in a narrative form and draw your audience in.  Ignite the imagination!  Hook them in with a good tale that evokes emotion and awakens the senses.  Some of the best pitches incorporate story-telling techniques; characters, conflict, visuals – even heroes!

In summation, preparing for a pitch should be a well-planned exercise and can be a creative and fun process.  Just make sure you have the solid information to answer the most basic of questions your organisation will have, after all, you are opening yourself up to discussion.

If you need some more direction in this area, please don’t hesitate to contact me at emma@emmabeames.com.au.  I would love hear some of your experiences either in listening to or presenting a pitch – what made an impact on you, and what techniques did not work?

I’m also @emmabeames and would love to engage with you on Twitter!

Identifying, Protecting and Creating Value Through Intellectual Property

 

intellectual assets


One of the differences between being an entrepreneur and an intrapreneur is the ownership of the finished project.

An entrepreneur aims to build value to their venture by creating their own intellectual property, or if someone else creates it, ensuring ownership is transferred to them.  Essentially, an entrepreneur assumes all of the risks and owns the project it its entirety until they sell it.

An intrapreneur’s work is owned by the company of which they are employed where it is the company which is bearing the majority of the risk. However the same mindset needs to be in place concerning strategy on the creation, recognition and protection of the project outcomes.

So what is intellectual property?  In simple terms, it is an asset created by the mind (for an example, an idea) and its value can be protected by the law excluding others from its use.

Common forms of legal protection include patents, copyright, trademarks and the keeping of confidential information confidential (trade secrets).  Ideas are not intellectual property by themselves, they have to be in a form that can be protected by law to be intellectual property. In the production of your project where you will determine what your unique value proposition is, including how you will distinguish yourself from competitors, intellectual property will play a major part.

While importance is often placed on having a patentable invention as a necessary component of a successful innovative endeavour, the truth is, other forms of intellectual property can be equally powerful, having great value and worth protecting strategically.

In the instance of Coca Cola, their non-patented intellectual assets, such as the secret formula of Coke, their brand – including their iconic logo, and the shape of their bottles, add enormous value to the company and they work hard to consistently protect and build this value.

Another example of this is the colour purple for Cadbury, they’d used it for over a century before they trademarked the colour.

Therefore just because you may not be producing a patentable technology as part of your project, don’t assume you will not be creating valuable intellectual property for your company.
Are you creating a new product or service name? This can be protected as a trademark and used to build brand value, including increasing existing value in your company’s brand when linked with the new brand (think “Apple” leveraging value off of “ iPhone” or “3M”  and “Post-it”).

Perhaps you are developing a new training program, or a process for automating transactions or an app for engaging with your organisation’s customers?  These can all be protected as copyrighted material.  Maybe you have created and trialled the next big iced tea flavour which you have kept secret – it can be protected as confidential information, and needs to be!

If your organisation has an in-house legal counsel,  go have a chat with them early on to understand the basics and so that you can enlist their help as needed as things progress. They will probably be very grateful that you are coming them with an interesting project and before anything has gone wrong. As a corporate lawyer specialising in intellectual property and commercialisation in my previous life, trust me – this is rare and appreciated!

Feel free to get in contact with me at emma@emmabeames.com.au if you think your organisation could benefit from an easy to understand and practical workshop on intellectual property and how to use it to create value.

Navigating the Competitive Landscape of Your Intrapreneurial Idea

navigating the competitive landscapeFinding a Solution, Not Extras

When innovating and developing new products or services, analysing the competition is an essential process but one that can be fraught with anxiety. Especially when you’re in this early development stage, seeing what your competitors are achieving can paralyse you.

 

Some companies, it seems, are offering everything and the kitchen sink to secure the loyalty of their customers. Think about the last time you signed up for a phone service and the salesperson mentioned all of the ‘add-ons’ that you know you’ll never use. If you only have the one product, say, a phone line rental, how do you compete with someone who can offer all these extras?

As I’ve highlighted previously, having a start-up mentality means approaching it differently to how an existing organisation would in a proven market.

Let’s say you have an innovative idea and you think you’re on to a winner because you’ve Googled it and cannot find a competitor with a similar offering to you.

The reality is:

  1. You are fooling yourself. There is competition out there, perhaps they are holding on to their resources until they’ve refined their product/service; or
  2. There is no competition because there is no market need.

What happens if you did an initial search and you found that your brilliant idea was already being offered in one form or another? Don’t let this put you off too quickly. This is actually a good sign; it means that a market and your idea has been validated.

If this is the case, ask yourself why would a customer chose my product over a competitors?

A common trap is to find out all of the features the competition has and try and incorporate them, and more in to your product – don’t. Don’t be fooled by those charts comparing two products in terms of the number of features they have. Your product needs to offer a solution, and many of the bells and whistles you are trying to add may not be valued by customers.

If you have been validating your business idea by talking to potential customers, as outlined in my last post, and you have been asking the right questions, chances are you have been given a clear idea of your market’s needs, including how you competitor is performing. But, were you listening? Here is a checklist of questions for your potential customers:

  • What is their biggest issue?
  • How do they currently solve this problem?
  • Who do they currently rely on to provide a solution?
  • Who else do they know is working on fixing this problem?
  • What solutions have they come up with themselves?
  • What is lacking that they are not being offered at the moment?

And most importantly : which features do they consider the most valuable? Concentrate on finding a way to give them something they’ve never been offered before, and are seeking.

When asked about how you will attract users to your product over your competitor, the answer will not be ‘an extensive list of features’, it will be about how you have differentiated yourself by providing the better solution which customers have told you they value and genuinely need.

Actioning Your Intrapreneurial Idea

actioning your intrapreneurial idea

 

Continuing on from Part One of my Five Part Introduction series, this week I focus on how to plan and action your project like a start-up.

 

 

The Beginning

So you have an innovative idea for your organisation and it is consistent and advances their strategic direction.  You’ve been given the green light to explore it for a short amount of time, on a small budget.  Awesome!

But what now? At the beginning the task can seem daunting and suddenly instead of knowing exactly what you are doing as part of your regular role; you are venturing into the unknown where what will be the end result is not clear.

Don’t panic because you are not alone and luckily for you some very smart, practical, risk-taking, movers and shakers have been working on and refining the process of what works and what doesn’t work, and basically how to just get stuff done. Start-ups are the early phase of a business where the founders are trying to find a repeatable, scalable business model for an innovative product or service where there is a high degree of uncertainty. Although you are already part of an existing organisation, the same process start-ups use can apply for forwarding innovative ideas.

There is a clear process to follow – but get ready to get out of your comfort zone to action it!  If you want to act like a start-up and move things forward at warp speed on a lean budget it is not business as usual. You’ll have to talk to actual customers/users (and potential partners, suppliers, distributors and so on, basically anyone you can think of who will be important to your idea working) before you have produced anything.  This communication process lays the initial foundation.

The cult 1989 film Field of Dreams quips: “If you build it they will come”.  But don’t assume because you think it is a great idea everyone else will agree and all you have to do is present it and watch the money roll in. Test first, then test again, and then build and continue to do so.

Using a tool like the Business Model Canvas can be very helpful in explaining this process step by step and managing your assumptions about;

1.      What problem you are solving for users
2.      Who those users are
3.      How  you will reach them
4.      How will you keep them
5.      What resources you will need
6.      What activities you need to do
7.      Who you will need to partner with
8.      How you will get revenue
9.      What will it all cost

In the beginning they are just that – assumptions. You have to test them out before going into full scale production of a finished product or putting a service out there.  Creating a minimum viable product at this stage can be invaluable.  It may just be some graphics of what the finished product, app, device, tool etc will look like.  You may develop something simple which people can actually use, touch, experience that will give the feel of the end product. Consider accessing a 3D printer or using one of the many free app mock-up programs but think prototype not a slick finished product.

When creating your prototype ask yourself: what is the absolute minimum you can do (factoring in turnaround time and resources) to give users the idea so you can start getting feedback on it?  Sometimes it is better to start small and simple and add the bells and whistles on as cried out for by customers.

Evolution

As you go through this process your idea will keep evolving and changing, and this is the whole point of this process.  As you build your “field” based on customers needs, people will be drawn to your product and invest themselves in helping you cultivate your innovation; this is the beauty of intraprenuership.

Intrapreneur’s Guide to Understanding Your Organisation

understanding your organisation

My next five posts provide an insight into the content of my workshops, and how my consulting services assist organisations cultivate their intrapreneurial culture to create innovative outcomes.

The issues I raise are worked through initially with an organisation’s management to ensure content and discussions with staff are consistent with their direction and desired outcomes.

I’ve broken down the initial phase, which focuses on understanding and working within your organisation’s structure, into three simple parts.

Part One: 

As mentioned in my previous post “Is Your Company Intrapreneur-friendly”, first and foremost organisations need to be clear about their strategic direction and ensure that they have clearly communicated this to their staff, at every level. This does take considerable time and energy and intrapreneurs also need to take responsibility themselves in seeking out this information.
The rewards for laying a strong foundation will become evident throughout all facets of an organisation by giving intrapreneurs clear goals and targets to work towards, and motivating staff to focus externally on customers, market realities and creating real results from their organisation’s value proposition. Whether it is profits or impact your organisation is focused on, the principles are the same.

Part Two:
Once the goals are clear and have been communicated, it is then important for intrapreneurs to  understand their organisation’s structure and permissions hierarchy. For example, in government and semi-government organisations, the ability to create spin-off companies or new profit centers may be extremely limited and new initiatives may require board or sub-committee approvals. Understanding the structure will help you plan how to operate within it, ensuring your project is planned in such a way as to require as few permissions as possible whilst still complying with your organisations policies. The key is to create freedom for a project to operate as a separate entity – much like a start-up, but to not actually be one.

Part Three: 
Managing risk is a vital component to planning intrapreneurial projects.  Keeping costs low and ensuring that the organisation’s brand is protected is paramount. By adopting the lean start-up model; new products, services or processes can be initially tested and validated for a relatively small outlay by creating a minimum viable product and then getting user feedback – before planning a more market ready product. This can be done under a separate name from your organisation (a virtual company) so that if it gets a bad reception, the reputation of your organisation is not tarnished.  If users are loving it then it can be re-branded under your organisation, knowing it has already been validated and the demand is there.

If you think your company is ready to kick start internal innovation, using a proven process which protects your brand and keeps costs low, shoot me an email at emma@emmabeames.com.au to discuss how I can help.

As always, I am interested to hear your thoughts. Have you hit roadblocks in forwarding a project at your work due to internal policies and permissions required? Did you find a way around them or did it mean a potential innovative project died before it could begin?

Risks of Intrapreneurship


Risks of IntrapreneurshipIntrapreneurship is a risky, albeit exciting business. 

Both the organisation and the intrapreneur can reduce some of the risks associated with this business model by taking the following five ideas in to account to reduce risk and failure.

 

Commit your support – While in the early stages it is tempting to starve your project of resources as you’re unsure whether it will work out; this makes it impossible to achieve the desired results.  Think of it like a plant (silly, but stay with me!).  The plant will need regular nourishment and attention for weeks, maybe months before it starts taking form.  You wouldn’t deprive a plant from water just because you didn’t see immediate growth.  Don’t hold back your resources; commit your support in every way – time, financially etc – to your project.

Define your mission – If you are the intrapreneur heading up the project, think lean but prepare a realistic budget and what resources you will need, including your own time, to reach the first milestone. Have this approved by your company before you start.  For the organisation, planning like this provides clarity by defining timeframes, projecting expenditure and outlining expectations.  Having your mission on paper will keep all parties involved accountable.

It’s a process – this should be your mantra during the early stages of an intrapreneurial project.  Rarely will a product end up the way you envisaged it in the planning stages – this is a good thing!  During the development the perceived benefits or appeal of an innovation may fall away, and this new information could turn the project in an entirely new direction.  Communicating with stakeholders at every stage of this process is vital so they never feel like there is failure, or blame, alternatively that it is all trial and error – and eventually, success!

The ‘What next?’ territory –  this is a fair question an intrapreneur will ask in terms of if the project continues progressing or, because of lessons learnt, it is wound up. What will happen to the intrapreneur leading the project and their team, if any?  Be transparent within the group about the “what next” territory – for example, if the product or service succeeds will they continue the scaling up process or hand it over?  This is about workflow and job security.

It’s not a One Man Show – In the excitement and freedom of the intrapreneurial process, one may resist utilising the resources and clout of its parent organisation, preferring to try and do everything themselves.  In my last post ‘partnerships and start-ups’ I mentioned how accessing the resources and expertise of others is paramount; for an intrapreneur – if it is right there – use it!  Don’t let your own ego be a barrier to hitting one out of the park.

Have the risks of intrapreneurship put you off pursuing a project within your organisation?  Did you leap into a project with enthusiasm only to be blindsided by an unexpected result?  Or have you had success with managing the risks? I’d love hear of your experiences.