‘Innovation has to be the responsibility of each and every employee in the Company’, this is a prevailing belief within Alcatel-Lucent.
Then comes the (hard) question of how to make this maxim a true and living reality to all employees…
The Alcatel-Lucent Entrepreneurial Bootcamp
We decided in Alcatel-Lucent to design and shape a specific initiative – obviously open to any employee – called ‘Entrepreneurial BootCamp’ to actually address the issue.
The choice was deliberately made to stimulate and leverage from the entrepreneurial skills of some employees.
Intrapreneurs are indeed passionate and persistent individuals, who have a special ability to mobilize resources to meet their targets. They generally have an unconventional way of working and do not hesitate to transgress the established codes and processes.
In a highly competitive market such as that of telecoms where products are evolving at a very rapid pace, their creativity and business acumen are critical.
Possible to acquire the entrepreneur’s state of mind
No question, however, to consider that these are exclusively innate skills.
If some employees clearly have particular predisposition to entrepreneurship, it is perfectly possible to acquire this state of mind. The energy, motivation and even talent are usually also related to the environment. The true ability to act as an entrepreneur clearly builds up when each employee (intrapreneur) is convinced that the Company believes in him and his idea.
Disseminating the change in the whole company
Stimulating and disseminating such a intrapreneurial spirit within a Company is also a true vehicle of change, transforming its culture.
This also allows to identify and capitalize on an often poorly exploited innovation capacity of employees, to stimulate their creativity, to (re-) engage them in giving meaning to their actions (it is their project), to connect the talents and break the internal organizational silos and finally of course to reduce the time-to-market of innovations.
Beyond a simple call for ideas, this BootCamp initiative Alcatel-Lucent has launched in 2006 and shaped since then –the presentation will be all about key learnings after 6 years of BootCamps - also seeks to develop an ecosystem close to that of start-ups: annual competitions, training and coaching, investment funds, sponsorship by serial-entrepreneurs to stimulate, unify and assist employees interested in this approach.
Olivier Leclerc is director, Innovation & Communication + Intrapreneurship at Alcatel-Lucent. He will be a keynote speaker at the Intrapreneurship 2012 Conference (Paris, Dec 13th, Novancia Business School)