A Little Note from Roger Manners


Recently Spark Global Business Caribbean facilitated seminars in Barbados on the subjects of Entrepreneurship and Intrapreneurship which included entrepreneurial advocates such as The Honourable Donville O. Inniss, (Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development) and accomplished entrepreneurs, the likes of the Founder and Chairman of Williams Industries Inc., Ralph ‘Bizzy’ Williams as well high profile Barbadians as Kirk Brown.

The seminars were a success as was evident by the magnificent attendance and positive feedback from the delegates.

Following the Minister’s reference for the need for Intrapreneurship, we spoke to a focus group about their view of the Intrapreneurship business model and it was revealed that the concept requires more definition in order for potential Intrapreneurs to understand the positive impact of the approach.

As we prepare to roll out the next series of Intrapreneurship seminars / events for 2017, we thought that it might be a great time to set out some of the principles of Intrapreneurship:

* Also referred to as ‘Corporate Entrepreneurship’, Intrapreneurship is all about creating the start-up culture that your organisation had in the early days of operation where everything was an opportunity.

* Intrapreneurship is a strategic model with a focus on developing customer-focused products / services - it is all about action and not just talking.

* The application of Intrapreneurship can lead to increased revenue, new customers, greater market share, raised profits, engaged employees and new assets / intellectual property.

* Whilst there are obvious benefits to the CEO, Intrapreneurship is also recognised as being important to Finance, HR, and Unions.

* In 2015, the outgoing CEO of Cisco (John Chambers) stated that almost 40% of companies today would be extinct in 10 years unless they learned to adapt: Intrapreneurship encourages flexibility for the future.

* Intrapreneurship is a structured approach - it ensures that people with ideas for your business are heard and are guaranteed the support to turn their ideas into a reality. One of the easiest ways to explain Intrapreneurship is to refer to the Kodak and Apple Case Studies.

In 1975, a Kodak employee invented the digital camera but his bosses told him to ‘bury it’. By 2015, Kodak’s business model had died and a start-up that embraced the new technology (Instagram) owned the IP (through Facebook).

As for Apple, well the iPhone is a case study in intrapreneurship: taking established ideas and technologies and applying them to a new vision - in the process (and after spending $150m!), Apple, effectively changed how over half the world communicates.

One of the points we raise In our intrapreneurship workshops is this: are you the next Kodak or the next Instagram?

Intrapreneurship is where people provide solutions to help businesses and by extension themselves, to develop and prosper. Known in the US as ‘Corporate Entrepreneurship’ Intrapreneurship can generate organizational growth, innovation, talent retention and employee engagement with the obvious outcome of people and business development.

Motivation for instigating the programme comes from CEOs, HR & Talent Development Directors, Executives, Innovation Managers and Organisational Change Managers who have the vision to know that with careful nurturing and development, their key employees can achieve more. Just as in Entrepreneurship, the Intrapreneur starts with an idea. However, being an employee, he / she shares the idea with their boss. Many Entrepreneurs began life as employees who shared ideas that were not acted upon – so they developed the ideas themselves. Indeed, Mr Bizzy Williams became an Entrepreneur in exactly that way.

So it is for the CEOs, etc. to encourage their employees to think and act for the benefit of the business and ultimately for every employee, in the form of providing job security and increased financial reward as all parties benefit from what is initially a listening exercise. 

This encouragement must be consensual – there are very few businesses that cannot be made more efficient IF the people at the sharp end are allowed to share their experiences of how processes and products may be improved and their suggestions are examined and acted upon where commercially viable.

Most employees work because they have to not because they want to. They are motivated by financial reward. Intrapreneurship is a way of increasing their self-actualisation and commercial awareness and rewarding them for it. This rubs off on other employees who then follow suit.

It is the company bosses’ responsibility to create the atmosphere that enables everyone to enjoy their work and become the best they can be. Quite simply, happy and contented employees produce more and better quality work. All they need is encouragement and a ‘thank you’ when they’ve done something well.

Roger Manners
April 2017