6 Tips for Empowering Intrapreneurs and Driving Innovation Within Your Organisation

Intrapreneurs are individuals who possess an entrepreneurial spirit, but instead of starting their own businesses, they apply their skills and knowledge to innovate and drive growth within existing organisations. They are creative problem solvers who are not afraid to challenge the status quo and take risks. Intrapreneurs can be found in various industries, and their contributions can be seen in many successful products and services.

For example, the Happy Meal was created by a McDonald's intrapreneur who recognized the need for a children's meal that combined food, toys, and entertainment. Similarly, Prime, the subscription service that has revolutionized online shopping, was created by an Amazon intrapreneur who saw the opportunity to provide customers with fast, free shipping and exclusive deals. And A Tall Order, a unique drink served at Starbucks, was created by a Starbucks intrapreneur who combined two existing menu items to create a new drink.

The success of these innovations shows the power of intrapreneurship in driving growth and competitiveness within organisations. By enabling employees to be intrapreneurial and innovative, companies can tap into their employees' creativity and drive, leading to new products, services, and business models.

To foster intrapreneurship within their organisations, companies can create a culture that encourages experimentation, risk-taking, and idea sharing. They can provide employees with the resources and support they need to develop and test new ideas, such as dedicated innovation labs, feedback mechanisms, and competitions. By doing so, companies can empower their employees to become intrapreneurs and drive innovation from within the organisation, creating a culture of continuous improvement and growth.

Here are six ways to drive innovation within an organisation:

1.     Start from an innovative culture, not a mechanism. Creating an innovative culture involves more than just implementing a system or process for innovation. It requires leaders to establish an entrepreneurial mindset and values that promote creativity, risk-taking, and experimentation. This can be achieved by providing opportunities for employees to collaborate, share ideas, and explore new concepts. For example, companies like Google and Apple have created environments that encourage innovation by providing employees with flexible work hours, open communication channels, and collaborative workspaces.

2.     Create helpful feedback loops.

Feedback is crucial in the innovation process because it helps employees identify areas for improvement and refine their ideas. Providing employees with regular feedback mechanisms, such as customer feedback or peer reviews, can help them develop better solutions and products. For example, companies like Apple and Microsoft often use beta testing programs to collect feedback from customers before releasing new products.

3.     Provide unique places and platforms for innovation.
Creating spaces and platforms that allow employees to experiment and share their ideas is essential to promoting innovation. This can be achieved by creating dedicated innovation labs or providing employees with access to tools and resources that facilitate idea sharing and prototyping. For example, 3M Corporation encourages employees to spend 15% of their time working on their own projects in a dedicated innovation lab.

4.     Challenge employees to think bigger, faster or differently.

Challenging employees to think outside the box can help generate new ideas and solutions. This can be achieved through competitions, hackathons, and design contests that encourage employees to work collaboratively and think creatively. For example, the hackathons at LinkedIn have resulted in several innovative new products and features.

5.     Encourage employees to fail often, creatively and openly.

Innovation requires taking risks, and failure is often part of the process. Encouraging employees to experiment and take risks can help generate more innovative solutions. This can be achieved by creating a culture that views failure as a learning opportunity rather than a negative outcome. For example, companies like IBM and GE encourage employees to share their failures and successes as part of their innovation culture.

6.     Create an independent department for research and development.

Creating a separate department for research and development can provide employees with the resources and freedom to pursue new ideas and innovations. This department should have its own budget, be independent of the rest of the company, and not be constrained by the company's strategic direction. For example, Microsoft has a dedicated research division, Microsoft Research, which has produced several innovative new technologies and products.

In conclusion, promoting innovation in the workplace requires a culture that encourages creativity, risk-taking, and experimentation. By providing employees with the tools, resources, and feedback they need, companies can empower their employees to become intrapreneurs and drive business strategy and innovation from within the organisation. You can start by engaging with Creo's entrepreneurship courses.
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