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Intrapreneurship: Fostering Innovation

Disruptive forces are reshaping our economy. Responding quickly and effectively with innovative solutions is crucial for survival. Yet, implanting innovation into organizational DNA remains elusive. Many approaches have been attempted to foster innovation but fall short of resolving the innovation dilemma. To do so, requires; 1) an understanding of the root cause barriers to innovation and 2) a comprehensive approach to creating a culture that fosters innovation.

If humans operated like computers with the simple logic of binary code, no barriers to innovation would exist.

We are not rational beings however, we are emotional beings with the capacity for rational thought. Our emotional mind, which controls most of our perceptions, is a-rational. That is, it is without reason, as opposed to irrational, or unreasonable. At times this unconscious, arational response serves our purpose, at other times it’s counterproductive. Our emotional mind resists change, as it is always looking to past experiences to inform our present actions.

The specific reasons each of us resists change are, of course, individualized, however most people share:

1) The fear of failure.

2) The fear of the unknown.

3) The fear that our creative idea will be rejected by others.

4) Our propensity to believe that we are “right” and any other viewpoint is “wrong".

In order to engage in real innovation, one must become aware of the presence of these unconscious beliefs, suspend them, and consciously engage the executive center of the brain. Thinking is volitional as opposed to emotion which is involuntary and automatic.

Therefore it requires a great deal of conscious effort and will. Thus, if we are to innovate, we must learn to govern our unconscious emotional reactions with our conscious thoughts.

If you are looking to develop an innovation embracing culture you must nurture the following attributes:

  • Team members have a conscious awareness of their unconscious emotional proclivities, and reactions.

  • Team members are united by a consciously generated, emotionally compelling shared purpose that is superior to their individual agendas. This emotional force counteracts unconscious barriers.

  • Personal accountability for measurable outcomes motivates the development of innovative processes, products and services. Team members do what they say they will do, even when barriers arise.

  • Open communication is utilized, unimpeded by organizational rank.

  • Confronting difficult issues is accepted as a necessary and integral part of the creative process, and is conducted in a manner that strengthens interpersonal relationships.

We refer to such a culture as intrapreneurial.

"An intrapreneur is a person who takes the direct responsibility and commensurate authority to organize and manage an enterprise, within a larger organization."

The distinguishing characteristic essential to intrapreneurship is the voluntary taking of initiative and risks associated with generating the outcomes of the enterprise.

Those organization’s that consciously, methodically develop an intrapreneurial culture will have the greatest opportunity to survive the forces of entropy in an ever changing world.

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