If asked about entrepreneurship, many people will respond with some iconic names and great business builders like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Elon Musk. They’re often hailed as super heroes who pursued their passions, believed in what they were doing and succeeded, which is only partly true: they never would have been that successful on their own.
For intrapreneurs, that’s even more relevant as they are operating in an existing organization. We want to know more about this, so we fired some questions to Olivier Leclerc, director Innovation & Intrapreneurship at Alcatel-Lucent, who will be speaking at the Intrapreneurship Conference 2013.
Olivier, what do you think: super heroes or team sport?
Well, let me say – I agree with the statement that intrapreneurship is a team sport because it is all about people. Intrapreneurship is just a dry word, but we we understand we talk about people, it becomes real. Intrapreneurs are change makers, the people in an organization who think and act differently.
The only way they can make things happen is if they have support from people they can rely on, by which I mean both the team and the organization’s top management.
Let me elaborate on that. As a change agent, you can never change the world on your own. Yes, you can have ideas and insights as an individual. But the doing, that’s the one thing you have to engage in together.
You need people with complimentary skills on your team, so that you are able to draw up a shared vision of the future. Building on the interests of every team member, you collectively build a very strong motivation to make it happen.
Additionally, you will need sponsors – convincing people to support your team’s ideas but not only that. You should ask for feedback, to prevent you are working based on what I call a “Disneyland-vision”: without constructive feedback from all angles, it’s just a fantasy you are pursuing.
Having sponsors is also crucial because of the internal politics. Maybe that’s the key difference of intrapreneurs and entrepeneurs: you operate within an existing organization so you need to be smart in dealing with politics. Your sponsors, if they endorse your idea, can help you navigating that landscape and actively work with you to convince other important stakeholders.
All of this is based on my experience with embedding intrapreneurship in our organization. With our intrapreneurial bootcamps, we found that multidisciplinary teams are essential for coming up with true innovation that is supported throughout the organization. Building bridges between departments and functions has been proven the key to all successful projects.
I have seen that intrapreneurs are indeed able to act as effective change makers, but only if they understand that it is a team sport and if they maximize the diversity of thinking within their organization. And in the end, of course there are super heroes. But not only one – it is the whole team!
If you are interested in hearing from Olivier about their Intrapreneurship Bootcamps, or from any of the other seasoned intrapreneurs and inspiring experts about implementing intrapreneurship, then join the Intrapreneurship Conference 2013. It is the leading global conference on intrapreneurship, leaving you with practical insights for how you could transform your employees into great innovators.
See you in Barcelona!