When bad times strike, they strike hard and
leave very few prisoners. To survive, companies of all sizes must act and look
at different ways to see the bad times through. After years of downsizing and
cost cutting, corporations have now realised that they can’t shrink their way
to success. All they have achieved is survival and surviving does not allow
quick growth. A company that is just surviving is a company that is not in
business. There is only so much one can do to tweak existing products or
services, taking over rivals, or moving into developing countries.
A new imperative is clear: Companies must
create, develop, and sustain innovative new businesses. Elon Musk agrees, “Failure is an option. If things are not
failing, you are not innovating enough.”
All businesses require innovation. Innovation is
a compilation of fresh ideas, and fresh ideas stem from those that are
passionate about their organisation. These are the Corporate Entrepreneurs, or
now known as Intrapreneurs.
So why should companies create more Corporate
We are so often reminded of stories about
decision makers trapped by conventional thinking:
Blockbuster – the company that hired out movies. They had
the option of buying out Netflix, who
sent videos through the internet directly to your home. Blockbuster went bankrupt in 2010.
Blackberry – almost everyone had a Blackberry phone in
the mid 2000’s until the iPhone
was released in 2007. They never believed that the touch screen technology would survive. From
having 50% of the market share, they now own
Industry – instead of embracing
the digital generation, publishers have been
dragging their heels trying to slow it down.
There are many more organisations who have
refused to be innovative and are now just ‘surviving companies’ or worse, no
longer in business, like Xerox, MySpace, Polaroid, Yahoo, Kodak, Atari, AOL,
and many more.
Do you ever want to see your company in this
This illustrates how important it is for
organisations to create more Corporate Entrepreneurs.
corporate person will tell you that to be a good manager, he/she has to have
and practice the 6 management traits to be successful. These are:
4. Developing Other People
5. Building Relationships
6. Constant Development
So yes, these are
important when one is employed to run a department or even a company. These are
very necessary when their mandate is to ensure profitability of their
department, to ensure employees are doing their work, and ensuring that all the
paperwork is in line with the company’s processes.
However, when all these
boxes are ticked, the manager gets rewarded with a bigger department consisting
of more employees and a fancier title with a bigger office on the 6th
floor. This process gets repeated until our manager becomes too old for the job
and goes into retirement to the coast.
Sitting on the patio
overlooking the sea, our manager looks back at what he has achieved in his life
– his story: being a highly paid manager that was responsible for a big
The question I always ask
is, “What value did he really make in the company?
How different will the picture really look if we turn the manager into a Corporate Entrepreneur?
What would happen if we placed
Richard Branson on the patio next to our manager?
How different would that
So how would your
organisation fare if your managers could think
like a Corporate Entrepreneur?
Corporate Entrepreneurs do share a collection of
these management characteristics; however, they require the ability to take
risk, demonstrate initiative to ensure a successful venture as well as the
constantly thrive under the cloak of uncertainty. They have the tenacity which helps
in dealing with the repeated challenges they experience day in and day out.
They have perseverance, persistence, determination, commitment, resilience. They
know they are the ones who create control.
Money is not always the
driving force behind their motivation, but that deep passion and strong belief
in the offerings. Their belief that they can solve life’s’ problems and make
life so much easier, better, cheaper. They believe they will change the world.
Their passion in what they’re doing is what gets them through these challenges.
3. Tolerance of ambiguity
This is where the risk-taking
comes in. Corporate Entrepreneurs have the ability to master the Fear Factor; endure
the fear of uncertainty and potential failure. It is really the art of successfully
managing the daily fears; fear of humiliation, fear of missing deadlines,
expectations, fear of failure, bankruptcy, and so on. Their ultimate
entrepreneurial test takes place in their attitude and abilities of mental control
and stamina. Managers do go with the fear – but then they quit, whilst the
Corporate Entrepreneur will take it on and push through it. The Corporate Entrepreneur
looks at the situation and knows they have some control over the outcome.
are able to identify opportunities and delve in the space where others have yet
to explore. They create niches that managers cannot identify, which opens up
opportunities in innovation and evolving areas. These they visualise well and
are able to effectively communicate them to those around them. They strive to
operate where angels fear to tread.
Their belief in what they
do is so strong that it rides on the back of self-confidence. This strong
belief helps to overcome the risk factor. The energy created is so contagious
that others are sucked in willingly and enthusiastically.
They are the masters of adaptation
and are fully aware that their success depends on it. How things were
originally planned, may never end up looking the same. This level of
flexibility creates the response to the ever-changing market conditions and the
environment and staying on top and in control.
This is one factor that scares
the Executive in many organisations. The Corporate Entrepreneur exists to defy
conventional thinking. Doing what others are not doing is the natural way the
Corporate Entrepreneur operates – yet they get results and are the ones
responsible for taking organisations to the next level and seeing it through.
Several big companies
today actively promote Corporate Entrepreneurship, allowing their employees to
spend 10 to 20 percent of their time on innovative ideas that are
unrelated to their normal jobs. Companies such as Google, 3M and Intel are
well known for their efforts in this regard. Not surprisingly, these
are some of the best performing big companies in the world of business
Some of the best products
that were born out of intrapreneurship:
- Apple – Mac, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iCloud
- Google – Gmail, Google News, AdSense, driverless cars, Google
Glass and other innovations
- Virgin – The numerous divisions launched by Virgin: Air,
hotel, casino, books, music, Megastore, mobile, wines, games, Galactic
- Sony – PlayStation
- 3M – Post-It Notes
- Discovery – Medical, Life Cover and Investments
- Kreepy Krauly – swimming pool cleaner
- Pratley – Glue and Putty
- Hippo Roller – Water roller
… and there are many more.
Can your company afford
NOT having a Corporate Entrepreneur? Certain managers can be trained to become
a Corporate Entrepreneur.
Ketler is the founder of the Corporate Entrepreneur Academy and has been training
Corporate Entrepreneurs for the past 30 years. http://www.ketler.co.za/entrepreneur-academy/
how Trevor can add value to your company, call him on 082 447 5150