A lot has been written on the value of intrapreneurs. Even more has been written on the obstacle the face on the daily basis.
It looks as if the structure of large organisations is such that it does not allow for innovation. A friend and CEO of 1500 people company recently complained that the only innovator is the 86 year old Founder. When I asked him why does he not change things, he answered that he cannot. There too many guidelines, rules and regulations embedded in the core of the company that make flexibility a forbidden fruit!
And yet, we an established company in the 21st century will not survive, if it does not behave like a startup. Disruptive innovation and the advancement of technology have a definitive impact on the markets. The customers continuously change their wants and needs, while they face new problems. Businesses are obliged to follow the waves of change and adapt fast and often. The ones who will not follow the changes, will stagnate and die.
Implementing startup mentality in a corporation or medium sized business is an enormous task. Corporations have the outlook of a labyrinth with a lot of snakes hiding in every dark corner. Avoiding pitfalls and politics is almost impossible.
And yet, there are solutions. One of them is to partner up with outside startups. These startups have fresh ideas and a fresh outlook of the market. They are flexible, innovative and ready to take on new challenges. They are not interested in politics or the survival of their business model. A partnership with such startups usually brings new blood to the ‘old’ organisation.
The aim of the partnership should be for the new culture to affect the old and NOT vice versa. In order to achieve this aim, the startup should be given independence from the central authorities, as well as central support.
In order to ensure independence, it would be advisable for the startups to be located outside the walls of the company. A separate building, different location with loose links with the main business would be ideal. This way, the startups will be away from the daily political grind that may absorb them and spit them out drained and ineffective.
The central support is another matter that should be taken seriously. The higher the support comes from, the better are the chances for these startups to survive. The CEO or CTO or Vice President of a company would be ideally place to take the small startup under their wings. These people understand perfectly how important protection is. I am sure there will be a lot of conservative forces that would love to place obstacles in their operation.
In any case, perseverance is an integral part of the process. Both startup and established company should show tenacity in their efforts to change the culture of the latter. And with that, they can carry my best wishes!