2.1 Enterprising Behaviour

Figure out solutions for improving their own work.
Are involved in thinking up new or improved products, services or processes.
Persuade supervisors or managers to explore new ideas.

Entrepreneurship is not just for those at the top: in the right circumstances, employees at every level can identify opportunities for innovation and business development. It depends on an organisation’s ability to create the processes, individual competencies and motivation to enable employees at all levels to act entrepreneurially. As intrapreneurs, employees have the ability and legitimacy to achieve strategic goals by working creatively in the spaces between formal organisational structures.

Intrapreneurship happens when employees take the initiative and try something new without being asked to do so. The intrapreneur transforms ideas into successful ventures while operating within the organisation’s context and strategy. Innovative employers empower and provide intrapreneurs with the resources needed to create and sustain this dynamic process of product, service and process innovation.

The biggest challenge for intrapreneurs is dealing with the “Corporate Immune System”, the organisational structures such as bureaucracy, hierarchy, and rules and policies which don’t support an intrapreneurial culture and behaviour. Many organisations struggle with applying intrapreneurship within their daily routines due to narrow task definition combined with targets and schedules that deter opportunities for serendipity and idea generation.

Recognising and supporting intrapreneurs is the biggest challenge for Entrepreneurial Leadership.

Leaders need to take a systemic view of their own organisational structures and practices. Creating the culture of innovation and intrapreneurship needed for twenty-first century challenges requires tenacity. It means empowering intrapreneurs to challenge deeply embedded attitudes and behaviours, ask difficult questions, and bring in experiences from a diverse range of other organisations. In short, it changes the focus of relations between management and frontline employees from ‘how?’ to ‘why?’

With the accelerating dynamics of competition, the key to competitiveness no longer lies in re-applying past successes. It lies in the ability and techniques to lead and facilitate creativity, instilling the desire in people to become intrapreneurs, and creating an environment which enables and empowers innovation – as part of everyone’s job.

Read Rosemary Exton’s article on entrepreneurial behaviour in the National Health Service.

Forum topic: Do you have examples where inspiring ideas have come from unexpected people?

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