In order to create a more innovative enterprise environment, intrarpreneurship efforts should provide an appropriate climate for personnel that have a passion and are willing take a risk for the benefit of the organization. Here are some of the most important ones.
Incentives to drive innovation may include monetary elements such as performance bonuses and cash compensation for good ideas. However, don’t limit your incentive options simply to monetary ones.
It’s often more effective to provide incentives in the way of autonomy, the opportunity to run with a successful innovation, public recognition for a job well done, extra time off, face-to-face opportunities with members of the senior management team, or access to accelerated career path opportunities. Innovation can come in the form of compensation packages just as it does for ideas and business models.
Celebrate Success/Allow for Failure
It’s equally important to recognize success and acknowledge the individuals that participate, whether from the beginning idea to execution of the innovation.
But not every innovation will be a ground-breaking success. A key element is to provide the opportunity for failure as well as success. Innovation by its nature is a risk-taking venture and the possibility of failure is always present. Most intrapreneurs want to know that they have the stability of a salary, benefits and a career path. If they weren’t concerned about those element there is the very high likelihood that they would be entrepreneurs.
A positive response to failure is that acknowledgement that something has been learned. Every innovation attempt is an investment and it can return valuable lessons if it doesn’t return ROI. In the words of one of the most successful entrepreneurs of the 20th century: “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” – Henry Ford
Culture of Intrapreneurship
Finally, the creation of an innovation culture and successful innovation program is not a short-term initiative. It is a long-term investment in developing a process, culture and workforce that embraces change, doesn’t fear risk, and is constantly learning. It requires a long-term investment plan and support from the top. While many of the ideas may come from grassroots areas like operations or the field, the ability to harness these ideas and bring them to successful fruition requires a long view and the support of senior management.
To foster intrapreneurship into a sustainable innovation program, senior managers need to actively support the effort. This is not only because a certain, and likely high, percentage of innovative ideas will die between ideation and implementation, but also the innovation process for many organization is a disruptive one. While the organization greatly values the innovation, often the innovators will be looked upon negatively because of the disruption their innovative ideas are bringing to the overall organization. Support from the highest levels are needed to work past the hurdles and reach the eventual upside of the investment in innovation.