Intrapreneurship: Fostering Innovation


Summary: The organization that consciously, methodically develop an intrapreneurial culture will have the greatest opportunity to survive the forces of entropy in an ever-changing world.


Disruptive forces are reshaping our economy. Responding quickly and effectively with innovative solutions is crucial for survival. Yet, implanting innovation into organizational DNA remains elusive. Many approaches have been attempted to foster innovation but fall short of resolving the innovation dilemma.


Fostering innovation requires:


1) an understanding of the root cause barriers to innovation and

2) a comprehensive approach to creating a culture that fosters innovation.


If humans operated like computers with the simple logic of the binary code, no barriers to innovation would exist.

We are not rational beings however, we are emotional beings with the capacity for rational thought. Our emotional mind, which controls most of our perceptions, is a-rational. That is, it is without reason, as opposed to irrational, or unreasonable. At times this unconscious, arational response serves our purpose, at other times it’s counterproductive. Our emotional mind resists change, as it is always looking to past experiences to inform our present actions.


The latest brain research reveals that the part of the brain that is our “fear center” (the amygdala)is essentially an organ that senses novelty.  That means that anything that we are not accustomed to, that is new, or that is not our idea triggers fight or flight in us all!  The specific fears that get triggered in us are, of course, individualized however, most people share:


1) The fear of failure.
2) The fear of the unknown.
3) The fear that our creative idea will be rejected by others.
4) Our propensity to believe that we are “right” and any other viewpoint is “wrong".

In order to engage in real innovation, one must become aware of the presence of these unconscious beliefs, suspend them, and consciously engage the executive center of the brain. Thinking is volitional as opposed to emotion which is involuntary and automatic. 


Therefore it requires a great deal of conscious effort and will. Thus, if we are to innovate, we must learn to govern our unconscious emotional reactions with our conscious thoughts.


If you are looking to develop an innovation embracing culture you must nurture the following attributes:

  • Team members have a conscious awareness of their unconscious emotional proclivities, and reactions.

  • Team members are united by a consciously generated, emotionally compelling shared purpose that is superior to their individual agendas. This emotional force counteracts unconscious barriers.

  • Personal accountability for measurable outcomes motivates the development of innovative processes, products and services. Team members do what they say they will do, even when barriers arise.

  • Open communication is utilized, unimpeded by organizational rank.

  • Confronting difficult issues is accepted as a necessary and integral part of the creative process, and is conducted in a manner that strengthens interpersonal relationships.

We refer to such a culture as intrapreneurial.


"An intrapreneur is a person who takes the direct responsibility and commensurate authority to organize and manage an enterprise, within a larger organization."

The distinguishing characteristic essential to intrapreneurship is the voluntary taking of initiative and risks associated with generating the outcomes of the enterprise.


The organization that consciously, methodically develop an intrapreneurial culture will have the greatest opportunity to survive the forces of entropy in an ever-changing world.

PHOENIX SUMMARY

Core Idea:


In order to engage in real innovation, one must become aware of the presence of these unconscious beliefs, suspend them, and consciously engage the executive center of the brain. Thinking is volitional as opposed to emotion which is involuntary and automatic. 


Key take away:

The organization that consciously, methodically develop an intrapreneurial culture will have the greatest opportunity to survive the forces of entropy in an ever-changing world.

About the author(s):


Tom Willis is a Co-Founder and Partner with Phoenix Performance Partners. He had the great honor of serving as CEO for Cornerstone; a consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers; and an engineer with the Intel Corporation. His life is all about helping others uncover their talents so they can reach their unlimited potential and their organization can thrive.


| Linkedin: Tom


Brad Zimmerman is a Co-Founder and Partner with Phoenix Performance Partners. Zimmerman turned to organizational coaching more than 26 years ago following a successful career in sales and operations. Today, he helps businesses, nonprofits and other organizations develop cultures that transform work environments so people grow and the organizations thrive.


| Linkedin: Brad



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