Business organizations must embrace the power of Intraprenurship. My last article piece published revealed the concept and magnitude of Intrapreneurship. Intrapreneurs help organizations to innovate and highly save time, money, and make life easier and happier in the organizations. Intrapreneurs share a company’s goals. They are aware of their capabilities to contribute to these goals, and eventually are determined to take direct responsibility for realizing ideas within a corporate environment by taking risk and being innovative. Intrapreneurs are the future of any business organization.
One main question arises that where those powerful employees may be found and who can become a successful Intrapreneur? It must be understood that Intrapreneurs can come from any business area like marketing, supply chain, operations, finance, and more. Those sound employees may be found innovative, curious, insightful, doggedly determined and strategically agile and best contributing towards the success of an organization. Ken Kutaragi, is the former Chairman and Group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment (SCEI), the video game division of Sony Corporation. He is known as “The Father of the PlayStation”. Being an employee with Sony’s (Japanese multinational) sound labs he had bought his daughter a Nintendo game console. He was not satisfied with the system’s primitive sound effects while watching his daughter play. Kutaragi realized that a digital chip dedicated solely to sound would improve the quality of the games — and the product itself. Keeping his job at Sony, Kutaragi developed the SPC7000 for the next generation of Nintendo machines. When Sony executives came to know his sideline project they nearly fired him. Only with Sony CEO Norio Ohga’s help was Kutaragi able to push the project to completion and keep his job. Norio Ohga realized the value of his innovation and encouraged Kutaragi’s efforts. With Sony’s blessing, Kutaragi worked with Nintendo (Japanese multinational) to develop a CD-ROM-based Nintendo. But Nintendo decided not to go forward with it, so Kutaragi helped Sony develop its own gaming system, which became the PlayStation. The first PlayStation made Sony a major player in the games market, but the PlayStation 2 did even better, becoming the best-selling game console of all time. Kutaragi founded Sony Computer Entertainment, one of the Sony’s most profitable divisions.
Ken Kutaragi is not an only example of a great Intrapreneur. Infact many business ventures of today have achieved huge success because of the popularity of Intrapreneurs. We see a huge innovation in Facebook consistently and it is because of coders and engineers who are given a platform to create and develop ideas. Google is a company that embraces Intrapreneurship by offering their workforce a 20 per cent timeframe on developing personal projects relating to the business. One such project from Paul Buchheit was the initial template for Gmail, particularly the search function (the first of its kind from email service providers) and increased storage capacity. Today, Gmail remains one of the most widely-used email platforms on the web; driving key traffic to Google’s products. And all thanks to the brainchild of one of their employees. Intel helped change the world of work. The company has a strong record of encouraging intrapreneurship. In 1998, it launched its New Business Initiative (NBI). Every year, the initiative allows employees to pitch their ideas, with the winners receiving funding and incubation. New start-ups like Mindtree is also well known for promoting Intrapreneurship. “We see innovation as a strategic initiative and believe that it should be comprehensive, inclusive and purposefully aligned to the business” (Krishnakumar Natarajan, CEO and MD, Mindtree). “Thus at Mindtree, inclusiveness in innovation means not only receiving contribution from idea generators across the company but also giving them an opportunity to be a part of the execution process.”
In today’s more competitive world organizations can’t achieve their higher objectives without the right talent – Intrapreneurs. But a million dollar question arises how to promote the concept of Intrapreneurship in business organizations? There are no hard and fast rules rather some good and simple strategies can achieve wonders for any business venture. Intrapreneurial teams must be treated as profit centers rather than as cost centers. Organizations must encourage employees to be creative and to look for new ways to improve their current way of doing business. They must allow team members a variety of options in jobs, in innovation efforts, alliances, and exchanges. They must also integrate Human Resource (HR) and Engagement strategy with the business strategy and grant Intrapreneurs something akin to ownership rights.
Business owners must encourage high involvement throughout the company by insisting on truth and honesty in marketing and marketplace feedback. Employees should be developed through rich training programs and there must be strong brand awareness among employees. Leaders in the organizations have a greater role and they must become role models, living and breathing the brand. Business organizations must integrate the personal brand with the corporate brand. They must ensure that employees have a strong sense of their own branding. Moreover they must recognize brand advocates and make heroes out of those who bring the brand to life. Using the social media at the work place is a debatable issue but at the end what must count with the organization is the productivity of an employee. Business organizations must leverage social media and provide social platforms for employees to connect with not just other employees but with people on the outside.
Intrapreneurship and the Intrapreneur have entered the business vocabulary quite recently, but in a short time have managed to attract interest in business and corporate environments. Either change or die is rightly said and it is equally applicable to any business organization. Any business organization in order to be a business leader need to innovate or be ready to be a follower and far from success. Intrapreneurship must be recognized as a permanent function of a successful business organization, just like other business functions. If business organizations want to be able to consistently improve, they need dedicated professionals to carry out the business functions effectively and efficiently. Hiring a few good people and hoping for the wonders won’t work best for any business. Business owners need a solid plan for driving growth across their organizations. The dedicated professionals who can be the torch bearers of the organizational growth can be made possible by highly embracing the power of Intrapreneurship.
(The author is Assistant Professor, ITM University Gwalior and can be reached at: [email protected])