Staying ahead in a rapidly changing global landscape requires us to embrace new ways of working , thinking and doing business .
ccording to a McKinsey Global Innovation
Survey , some 84 % of executive leaders identify innovation as a crucial factor in their growth strategies , but 80 % say that their present business models are at risk compared with those of their forward-thinking competitors . Leaders agree that building a workforce fit for the future is a top strategic priority for their businesses to enable them to differentiate themselves and thrive in their sector .
The new business landscape requires leaders to demonstrate a different set of skills , and talent leaders are increasingly focused on developing internal entrepreneurial capabilities to ensure the workforce is able to tackle the most complex challenges innovatively and creatively .
Studies show that many organisations aim to focus 40 % of their innovation measures on intrapreneurship this year . Yet it is estimated that 75 % of HR leaders consider their workforce to lack top soft skills such as communication , creative problem-solving and the ability to deal with ambiguity .
But how can you define the role of an intrapreneur ? How can you empower and harness entrepreneurial skills inside your teams to gain a competitive edge ?
What is an intrapreneur ?
Pamela Attebery , MENAT head of innovation of HSBC Bank , lists the skills large organisations need the most to excel in today ’ s world as entrepreneurial skills , creativity , out-of-the-box thinking and learning to deal with ambiguity . These skills define entrepreneurial talent and leaders of the future — what we call ‘ intrapreneurs ’.
Entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs are similar in many ways as they share six top attitudes and skills : critical-thinking ; problem-solving ; strong communication ; creativity ; dealing with ambiguity ; and having a resilient growth mindset .
However , intrapreneurs are employees who also drive valuegenerating opportunities to give their company a competitive edge . They also take a different approach to the way they set goals , access resources , mitigate risks and approach failure .
Intrapreneurs are employees who also drive valuegenerating opportunities to give their company a competitive edge
At Davos earlier this year , Christian Klein , CEO of SAP , talked about the importance of intrapreneurial capabilities in uncertain times , stating : “ In this unpredictable environment , companies need to achieve incredible business outcomes , across all dimensions . They need to drive resilience — allowing them to steer their company through challenging times and adapt quickly to change .
“ They also need to drive profitability , both top and bottom line , to enable growth and increased productivity . And they need to drive sustainability — by reducing carbon footprint and waste , improving working conditions and transitioning to the circular economy .”
At Studio Zao , we believe organisations can support this by considering how to equip talent with ‘ lean start-up ’ practices and systematic innovation skills . Delivering this through a ‘ learn by doing ’ approach will help teams to acquire critical capabilities to deliver on new requirements .
A ‘ learn by doing ’ approach will help teams to acquire critical capabilities to deliver on new requirements
Employee upskilling has now become an imperative . Current trends have accelerated the need for HR leaders to transition learning from a cost centre or nice to have to a central role in organisational success .
Identifying intrapreneurial talent and leaders
Executives and HR leaders are increasingly recognising the importance of talented individuals with these characteristics to build a future-proof workforce , and recruitment firm Michael Page highlighted intrapreneurship as the top skill of last year in its report highlighting the 100 in-demand skills for 2020 .
HR leaders play a significant role in highlighting the value and potential of intrapreneurs to senior executives . Organisational success is dependent on intrapreneurial skills , and HR is well placed to ensure the business has the right processes to identify and nurture intrapreneurs . But finding these individuals can be tricky : they are often unnoticed and unempowered , without the tools , environment and resources needed to flourish .
Five ways to spot intrapreneurial talent in your business :
• Listen for the endorsements : employees who talk about the successes and abilities of others .
• Listen for the plusses : employees who entertain others ’ ideas .
• Look for intentional practice : employees who make room in their day for stretch work .
• Look for co-creation : employees who encourage discretionary effort towards their projects from other teams .
• Find the conversation starters : employees who challenge cultural folklore openly with data in order to add better value for tomorrow ’ s customers .
Supporting intrapreneurial culture
Intrapreneurs are best positioned for driving innovation as they have a 360-degree insight of the business , industry and customers . But it ’ s important to create the right environment for them to be supported and empowered so their endeavours can be impactful and sustainable .
We recently held an event with Google , Uber and Pentland Brands to explore how organisations can nurture internal entrepreneurs for innovation success . From this , we gathered tips to help unlock intrapreneurial talent and innovation capabilities , which included aligning innovation with strategic direction , selecting and creating a risk-taking workforce , forming blended teams , defining a set of shared values , and celebrating innovation success and learnings .
Combining your organisation ’ s resources with an experimentative environment will help create the optimal playground for intrapreneurs to grow and thrive . Implementing a culture that emulates that of a start-up will help your organisation to be more agile .
As an HR leader , you could also support the development of internal talent through dedicated learning and development initiatives , including internal incubators , innovation labs and start-up partnerships .
As the world is rebuilding itself towards a new normal , organisations wanting to stay ahead need to understand the importance of empowering , nurturing and rewarding intrapreneurial talent . Leading organisations are increasingly recognising the crucial value of intrapreneurs in their recruitment , development and retention processes .
Whether it ’ s focusing on the hiring process to select the right leaders or delivering innovation bootcamps to develop new ideas , identifying and empowering internal talent is the secret to embracing a successful workforce .
Jamie Qiu is founder and managing partner at Studio Zao , helping organisations to harness the internal entrepreneurial capabilities needed for strategic transformation .