Tag Archives: intrapreneurship

Land Mines of Intrapreneurship

Land Mines of Intrapreneurship

GUEST POST from Arlen Meyers, M.D.

Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity under VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) conditions with the goal of creating user/stakeholder defined value through the deployment of innovation using a VAST business model.

Intrapreneurs are employees trying to act like entrepreneurs within their organizations or non-profits. Here is the textbook of physician intrapreneurship.

Here is how to get your ideas noticed:

If you are trying to develop and deploy an AI solution in your sickcare organization, have you answered these questions?

Here are some reasons why your initiative will fail.

Do you have a VAST edupreneur business model?

Studies show that around 60 to 80% of new products fail. The same is probably true for programs and new educational offerings. It is difficult to determine the exact number of unreported cases, because who would like to talk about his innovation flops? The odds are against you.

So, what are the landmines to detect and avoid?

  1. You did not do your homework because you where unwilling, unable to do so ,or ,you do not have an entrepreneurial mindset and think because you already have 2 people who said they were interested that you could forge ahead.
  2. You did not have an exit strategy.
  3. You did not read the field manual.
  4. You don’t have the right sponsor with staying power.
  5. You tried to bite off more than your stakeholders are willing or able to chew.
  6. You are a bad rebel and chalk it up to “being authentic.”
  7. You do not have the right clinical champions on board.
  8. You have empty seats on the bus or the wrong people sitting in them.
  9. You are making these rookie intrapreneur mindset mistakes.
  10. You are not addressing the dysfunction of teams.
  11. You are not aligned with your organization’s strategy or vision.
  12. You are working in the wrong place with a toxic or fixed culture or for the wrong person.
  13. You don’t have an innovation strategy
  14. You don’t get sales and marketing
  15. You didn’t ask and answer these four questions before you started
  16.  If you’ve got a major change on the horizon, here’s how to avoid three of the most common saboteurs of company transformation. First, understand that significant change will be harder than you think it will be to achieve. Next, be realistic about your organization’s capacity to implement changes. Finally, make sure your organization understands how and why the transformation is important to you.
  17. You have not learned how to win at Survivor  1) Don’t expect friendship. Invest in relationships outside your company to meet your emotional needs; 2) Manage sideways. Your reputation with your peers becomes an important factor as you’re being considered for senior ranks; and 3) Hone your political skills.

If you get too far ahead of your troops, it is hard to tell the difference between you and the enemy. De-risk yourself. Be careful out there.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Should intrapreneurs really ask for forgiveness and not permission?

Should intrapreneurs really ask for forgiveness and not permission?

GUEST POST from Arlen Meyers

Intrapreneurs are employees trying to act like entrepreneurs, i.e. pursuing opportunity in their organizations with scarce resources with the goal of creating user defined value through the deployment of innovation. Many run into a brick wall.

The intrapreneur’s Ten Commandments include:

  1. Remember, it is easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission.
  2. Do any job that needs to make your project work, regardless of your job description.
  3. Come to work each day willing to be fired.
  4. Recruit a strong team.
  5. Ask for advice before resources.
  6. Forget pride of authorship, spread credit wisely
  7. When you bend the rules, keep the best interests of the company and its customers in mind.
  8. Honor your sponsors
  9. Underpromise and overdeliver
  10. Be true to your goals, but realistic about ways to achieve them.

We’ve heard #1 a lot and it has become part of the lore of intrapreneurship and organizational behavior. But, is it really a good idea? It depends, and here are some reasons why:

  1. Every organization, hospital and university has a culture of risk. Some cut you some slack. Some don’t.
  2. It depends on the risk involved. Andrew Gove of Intel advised to ask for foregiveness, but don’t drill holes below the water line.
  3. Sometimes, it ‘s better to keep what you are doing secret so as not to expose your idea too soon to the organizational immune system or people who are out to torpedo your success.
  4. It takes a while to get your idea ready for prime time and validate assumptions. Better to fail early and off the radar than flop big.
  5. Getting the resources you need will require imagination and political savvy. Sometimes that requires stealth and cunning.
  6. Most organizations have archaic systems for prioritizing innovation or a new product portfolio. Asking for permission just puts you in dysfunctional queue.
  7. Better to deliver your idea with as much value added as possible.
  8. You are not the only one with the responsibility of moving your idea forward. Think about your team members and sponsors who have their necks out too.
  9. One swallow does not a summer make. Even if you roll out a successful idea, people are going to want to know what you have done for them lately. Better to have a pipeline of products in development before launch. Platforms are more attractive than products.
  10. Building sustainability takes time and is sometimes done better off the radar. Once you have a successful internal venture, people will come to you to take credit.

Getting “escalated” is not pretty. Here are some ways to manage it.

There are two kinds of innovators. Permission seekers start with the rules, create ecosystems that conform to them, create business models that are new or different and that foster innovation. Forgiveness seekers, do the same, but in reverse. They use technologies that have reached a coherence tipping point to create business models and ecosystems and then drive to change the rules to allow them to scale.

There is a lot to recommend stealth innovation. Beware of making too much noise and make it low impact at the beginning. Don’t use words, like “center”, “institute” or “innovation” that are likely to mobilize hostiles with competing interests. Practice digipreneur guerilla tactics. Watch out for snipers.

Arming yourself with anti-radar technology is usually a smart move. However, if you get shot down over enemy territory it might be hard to find you and you will be placing your search and rescue team members in jeopardy. Think twice before flying over hostile territory without a survival plan.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Lead Innovation, Don’t Manage It

Lead Innovation, Don't Manage It

GUEST POST from Arlen Meyers

Chief Innovation Officers are growing like weeds. Some think their job is to manage innovation.

Some even go so far as to define their desirable traits.

Here is yet another article on how to manage innovation.

Here are some ideas on what it takes to be an innovation manager.

You can tell the CHINOs (Chief Healthcare Innovation Officer) in your office by the chinos and polo shirts they wear. But, just because they wear the same uniforms doesn’t mean they think and work the same. You see, there is no CHINO school.

They might as well quit since managing innovation will take them in the wrong direction. Instead, they should be leading innovators. Here’s why:

1. Everyone seems to have a different definition of innovation. Be sure you are leading people who have the same understanding and objectives.

2. Managing innovation implies that the core competence of an innovative enterprise is their system or culture. While that is important, successful innovation comes from living, breathing humans who innovate or try to repeatedly despite big obstacles.

3. Managing is about optimizing the efficacy and efficiency or resources. Entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs, some of whom are innovators, pursue opportunity with limited resources with the goal of creating user defined value through the deployment of innovation.

4. Leaderpreneurs are different than managers and have a different role. They provide vision, direction and inspiration. Unfortunately, most “leaders” provide motivation, not inspiration. Here are the differences:

  1. External vs. Internal: The first key difference is while motivation is typically accomplished through external factors, inspiration is an internal force. Wayne Dyer puts it this way: “If motivation is when you get hold of an idea and carry it through to its conclusion, inspiration is the reverse. An idea gets hold of you and carries you where you are intended to go.”
  2. Duration and Effectiveness: Since inspiration is an internal force, it lasts longer and is more effective. Motivation, particularly when connected to a system of external rewards, is only effective as long as you are able to keep the system of rewards consistent. Inspiration has deeper roots; its influence sticks with you and propels you further than mere motivation can.
  3. People’s Responses: People respond to inspirational leadership exponentially better than they do to compensation or coercion. People are always more eager to do something when it is an idea they feel connected to and invested in. While external forces can be a key motivator, people will react far better to a personal investment.

The goal is to release the innerpreneur, not use carrots and sticks.

5. Managing is about preserving or building the status quo. Innovating is about making the status quo obsolete.

6. Managers rarely assume the roles of intrapreneurial sponsors. Leaderpreneurs have to to be successful.

7. Managers get in the way by controlling. Leaderpreneurs get out of the way by inspiring.

8. Leaderpreneurs create innovation management systems that can be scaled with the goal of making themselves obsolete as quickly as possible. Managers create systems to protect their jobs.

9. Leaderpreneurs organize chaos and serendipity. Managers strive to standardize.

10. Managers think short term costs. Innovation leaderpreneurs measure things as longer term investments.

A recently released Conference Board report showed a strong link between leadership and innovation. The authors identified nine behaviors that are key to getting results:

  1. Leaders jointly created a vision with their colleagues.Some have thought leadership to be about coming up with a grand strategy, and then enticing the troops to follow you up the hill. But our data showed leaders creating a vision collaboratively, not in a directive manner.
  2. They build trust. We interviewed leaders who were in the top 1% of their organization on creativity. One quality stood out. These leaders trusted their people and in turn their colleagues had an enormous trust in them. One person noted, “To take a risk demands that you feel really safe.” “She always has our back,” said another.
  3. Innovation champions were characterized by a willingness to constantly challenge the status quo.People described innovative leaders as fearless and doing what’s right versus what may be politically correct. Some highly effective leaders of innovation were characterized as being “inverse to the environment.”
  4. Leaders who fostered innovation were noted for their deep expertise.Colleagues noted that it was this “T” quality that defined these leaders. These leaders had a wide range of intellectual curiosity on a horizontal axis, while at the same time were grounded deeply in their knowledge of the technology at the center of what their group did.
  5. They set high goals. Leaders who created innovative teams were noted for setting the bar extremely high, and giving their colleagues the challenge and opportunity to achieve what they believed would be beyond their reach.
  6. Innovative leaders gravitate toward speed. These leaders move at a quick pace. They believe things can be accomplished sooner, not later. They gravitate toward the quick prototype that is put together with duct tape and paper clips in one day over a more perfect result they could create in six months. The graph below shows 360 results for 57,113 leaders who were rated on their speed of execution and their ability to innovate. Note that leaders who move slowly are on average rated at the 12th percentile on their ability to innovate while those who are in the top 10 percent are at the 89th percentile.
  7. They crave information. Innovative leaders keep the team on the same page by flooding them with relevant facts. They excel at asking good question and then being exceedingly good listeners. The combination of “catch and pitch” helps the team to excel at innovation.
  8. They excel at teamwork. The next characteristic of the most innovative leaders was excelling at teamwork and collaboration. It was never about “me.” It was always about the team creating something of value.
  9. They value diversity and inclusion. The most innovative leaders recognize that the creative process feeds on bringing people together who possess sharply differing views and experience. It is the blending of these elements that creates highly innovative solutions.

Here are five strengths of innovative leaders.

Here are some other thoughts on what it takes to lead innovators.

In general,  successful innovators primarily focus on four areas: creating a vision, building an organization that can achieve that vision, leading and empowering their team to succeed in that, as well as ultimately adapting their approach based on what they’ve learned along the way.

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Here are 10 tips on how to create a lead successful innovation teams.

One author noted that “the first step in creating meaningful, long-term, sustainable innovation in any organization is to recognize that cultures cause outcomes.  And if this is true, bad cultures will cause bad outcomes. And if this is true, it further follows that bad leadership causes bad cultures, which in turn cause bad outcomes.”

Harvard Business School Professor Gary Pisano reminds us , though, that the innovation culture must balance easy to like behaviors with some that are less fun and designed to address the main dysfunctions of teams: an intolerance for incompetence, rigorous discipline, brutal candor, a high level of individual accountability and strong leadership.

There are many myths about organizational innovation cultures and how to create them. The truth is that cultures are the result of innovation strategy, structure, processes and people, not the cause. They are created by organizational leaders.

Another problem is that traditional approaches to leadership development no longer meet the needs of organizations or individuals and personal learning clouds are filling the gaps.

Innovation is not a nebulous concept tucked some where in a strategic plan. Like any combat team, it has a face, a heart and a soul and needs to nurtured and led, not managed. In the end, it’s the people, stupid.

Image credit: Pexels

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The Academic Intrapreneur Dossier

The Academic Intrapreneur Dossier

GUEST POST from Arlen Meyers

Entrepreneurial universities and medical schools, as rare as they are, require intrapreneurial faculty i.e. faculty who are trying to act like entrepreneurs in their institutions. One way to recruit, develop and promote faculty intrapreneurs is to recognize their entrepreneurial inputs, processes, outputs and outcomes as part of the promotion and tenure process, which typically requires submitting a dossier to the promotion and tenure committee.

There is national and international recognition of the importance of innovation, technology transfer, and entrepreneurship for sustained economic revival. The Office of Budget and Management cites rising healthcare costs and the associate deficits to deal with it as a matter of national security.

With the decline of industrial research laboratories in the United States, research universities are being asked to play a central role in our knowledge-centered economy by the technology transfer of their discoveries, innovations, and inventions. In response to this challenge, innovation ecologies at and around universities are starting to change. However, the change has been slow and limited. Some researchers, myself included, believe this can be attributed partially to a lack of change in incentives for the central stakeholder, the faculty member. They have taken the position that universities should expand their criteria to treat patents, licensing, and commercialization activity by faculty as an important consideration for merit, tenure, and career advancement, along with publishing, teaching, and service.

Most dossiers require candidates for promotion and tenure to describe their activities in four areas: research, teaching, clinical care and service to the community. Most exclude entrepreneurship or do not give credit for entrepreneurial activities and that is a mistake, since innovation and entrepreneurship has become the fifth mission of academic medical centers. The new academic triple threat demonstrates leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship. However, there is a disconnect between how academic leadership is defined and recruiting, developing and promoting faculty with an entrepreneurial mindset.

The intrapreneurial dossier might include the following in areas of entrepreneurial research, practice, education and service:

Materials from Oneself

  • Materials that show your entrepreneurial activity
  • Statement of entrepreneurial responsibilities (course titles and numbers, enrollments, required or elective, graduate or undergraduate)
  • A reflective statement describing personal entrepreneurial philosophy, strategies and objectives
  • Representative entrepreneurship course syllabi detailing content and objectives, methods, readings and requirements
  • Description of curricular and instructional innovations such as new course projects, materials, and class assignments and assessment of their effectiveness
  • Steps taken to evaluate and improve one’s entrepreneurial outputs and impacts.

Materials from Others

  • Materials from outside sources commenting on your development as an entrepreneur
  • Statements from colleagues who have either observed the entrepreneur in action
  • Student course or teaching evaluation data
  • Distinguished entrepreneurship awards or other recognition of entrepreneurial abilities.
  • Invitations to organize or present at a conferences, seminars or workshops

Products of Good Entrepreneurship

  • Materials that demonstrate your effectiveness as an entrepreneur or innovation and entrepreneurship opinion leader
  • Patents or evidence of other intellectual property
  • Licensing agreements
  • Spin out or startup metrics
  • Economic development metrics
  • Failures and how you applied lessons learned

Other Items that Might be Included

  • Testimonials
  • Community service and ecosytem activities and accomplishments
  • A statement by the dept. chair assessing the contribution of faculty entrepreneurship and innovation to the department

Creating an academic entrepreneurship portfolio documents accomplishments, satisfies policy mandates and is a excellent tool for pacing personal development and entrepreneurial progress. Fundamentally, it should explain and document the value you have created for your institution by your entrepreneurial efforts.

On many academic medical center campuses, the emphasis and metrics revolve around publications and research grant numbers. However, the difference between discovery and value creation has little to do with money. Instead, it has to do with leadership, culture, strategy, alignment, coordination and execution.

Barrier to participation by academic faculty, particularly clinical faculty, in the scholarship of entrepreneurship are:

  1. They do not get promotion and tenure credit for doing it
  2. The main message is they need to generate clinical revenue or find a way to buy out their clinical time
  3. The other faculty in the department get resentful and see non-clinical activity as dumping more work on them
  4. They are seen as trouble makers and bad rebels
  5. Lack of institutional support, infrastructure and resources
  6. Rigid policies and procedures that are anti-entrepreneurial
  7. “entrepreneurship” is a dirty word. The scholarship of innovation goes down easier.
  8. There is little or no alignment with department chairs
  9. Lack of strategic vision
  10. No one is leading innovators. Everyone seems to want to manage innovation

In addition, edupreneurs, i.e. those education intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs developing and deploying educational technologies, are critical if we are to change how we educate students and change an unsustainable education business model at all levels of education, but particularly for higher education and graduate and professional levels..

Maybe, some day, promotion and tenure committees will include your intrepreneurial accomplishments and actually give you some credit for achieving them.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Scaling-up, the next frontier for innovation organization

Guest Post from Nicolas Bry

How to transform innovative bottom-up initiatives into a movement spread across the company? How to scale your innovation program widely? Here are a few lessons learned from creating innovation programs in Europe, and tweaking them to Africa and Middle-East contexts.

Leveraging local and global innovation

Supplementing wisely central techno-pushed innovation with local innovation, closer to the fields and to the user needs, opening new windows of opportunities, is the goal of the open and local innovation approach developed for Orange Africa.

The purpose is to balance the technical expertise from a central innovation division, with the possibility of bottom-up initiatives, experimenting locally up to 100 innovative solutions every semester with the circa 20 countries where Orange operates in Africa and Middles-East.

The local innovation focus is on agility, pragmatism, and value created for the users and for Orange business, while leveraging a key technological asset that Orange can bring to the innovative service.

Smartphone Noir

One emblematic story is the birth of Orange Money, a mobile money service solving the problem of money transfer and payment for unbanked people. The idea was born in Kenya, and it clearly could not have emerged in Europe where everyone is banked, even kids! Orange developed centrally a platform capable of supporting all African countries in their progressive roll-out over 18 countries: ten years later, 50 millions users signed in for Orange Money. Furthermore, the central Orange Money platform enables local developments blossom, tailored to each country needs, and being picked-up, and replicated from one country to another over the region.

This is probably the most brilliant innovation of Orange over the decade, still no cutting-edge tech embedded: it’s low tech (SMS). As it solves a real user problem, it transforms people’s life, and got a massive adoption rate.

Orange Money map

Conducting short experiments in connection with business units

I created Orange intrapreneurship program 5 years ago, with a view to help innovative ideas transition more fluently into business, with the help of a sponsoring business unit, and to open the innovation doors to every Orange employee, letting them benefit from a tunnel of goodwill around their idea. The program acted like an innovation center of expertise or incubator. It clearly involved the business units very upstream: I’m a strong believer in co-developing innovations that create opportunities for business units, giving them a competitive advantage or solving one of their problems. “Find out the business unit problem that your innovation is solving”, I kept saying to the innovators I mentored!

Now we are adapting the process for the 20 countries of Orange Africa taking into account contextual particularities. We keep the employees participation and the business unit ownership aspects, but we also try to test refinements on the exploration stage. The key here is to conduct innovation exploration with short experiments in connection with business units:

  • achieving quick business wins with innovative process improvement, impacting internal organization, and not only new product and services: for instance, streamlining the authentification process for new customers;
  • mixing employees and business representatives with startups that help experimenting quickly; this has been pioneered by Orange Belgium, and these teams are called innovation squads like in the Spotify vocabulary;
  • keeping the process nimble, in a stretched time frame of a few weeks, so as to conduct a high number of experiments, confronting mock-ups to users, and collecting a maximum of users’ feedback, finding The Right IT before any product development.

Our target is to build proximity with our target users, rather than falling in love with our product, to explore and conduct short experiments, and pave the way to exploitation capitalizing on users’ feedback.

Personne Pointant Sur Un Appareil Photo Noir Et Gris Près De Macbook Pro

Designing innovation program, boosting innovation community

I’ve been through 10 steps to design an corporate entrepreneur program in my book The Intrapreneurs’ Factory. These 10 milestones are also an appropriate framework to design the innovation process with the countries of Orange Africa.

10 steps

It’s important first of all to define the reason why you start the program, what problem you’re trying to solve, what goals and KPIs will make the management team satisfied if they are reached. Then, some delicate gates are:

  1. Finding out the right sponsor, both visible and accessible; sometimes a deputy sponsor can compensate a lack of avaibility!
  2. Involving the business side soon enough in the process to trigger ownership, and  further facilitate the exit, aka the transition from exploration to exploitation;
  3. Closely coaching the process along the way, sharing the innovation tools from design thinking and lean start-up, bespoke tools to design mock-ups, and conduct experiment, but also the very peculiar mindset of the successful innovator: flexible and stubborn at the same time as says Jeff Bezos, as the key relies in the management of iteration in short cycles.

To operate this innovation process, we move together with a community of 20 staggering innovation champions, representing the countries of Orange Africa. Not only we discuss the innovation process to test locally, but we share view on innovation organization, and share success stories during a weekly Radio Innovation.

Radio Innovation

Weekly Radio Innovation also puts forward tremendous testimonials to inspire the innovation community:

  • from innovation managers and communities connected to Africa:  Seedstars startups competition and programs for African entrepreneurs; Make Sense Africa incubator and the Dakar Citylab; Norrsken Kigali innovation hub, the startups gateway to East Africa; YUX Design Agency from Senegal, validating innovation ideas with users; innovation in the informal sector in Africa with GoodPoint/Archipel-co.com; Total Africa open innovation in Chad; Entrepreneurship Communities for innovation in Africa, with Archipel&Co and Africa Farmers Club; Liferay digital platform, and an Africa’s approach to tech and innovation; Innovation in Africa with Vodafone;
  • from startups growing their business in Africa: cloud telephony for SMEs, with Mteja from Kenya, and AfricaTalks; South-African MFS Africa: moving money across countries with one API that makes Africa look like one country; Kenya Pezesha loan marketplace for small African businesses; Chari.ma from Morocco, market place for local businesses; African startups investment report by Briter Bridges;
  • from Orange collaborators illustrating the group assets: Orange Ventures Africa seeds challenge; Social listening with Orange Data Studio in Guinea; Orange Fab Belgium innovation squads; Orange Senegal design thinking toolbox; Orange Slovakia  open innovation; Orange Amman innovation team; First 100% digital mobile offer Flex by Orange Polska; Orange Romania innovation ecosystem, and cooperation with startups;
  • from broader innovation experts: innovation community management at Gefco; Booster incubation studio at Total; innovation in the energy industry, Innovation Vesta Wind Systems; collaborating with startups through the Venture Client Model, by 27pilots.

For these innovation champions in charge of setting-up an organization for innovation in their country, the challenge is to seek for integration (integrating seamlessly innovation with the business) before seeking for success. These mind-boggling testimonials feed them, upgrade their skills, and consolidate their innovation culture.

Scaling-up innovation oragnization

Once the innovation program gets traction, the next step is about scaling-up the approach, engaging progressively all participants. If all Orange countries commit to the innovation process in Africa, that will lead to the tremendous portfolio of 100 creative solutions experimented per semester, 200 on a yearly basis on the regional footprint: what a eye-catching achievement!

At the innovation project level, one can use the scale-up canvas to check whether the project is ready to grow, and move from a start-up to a scale-up stage.

At the program level, Is your innovation organization resilient? is the topic of a short assessment I have designed to know how your innovation organization fare across 10 key areas, and cements its resilience. Whether you are leading open innovation, internal innovation, participative innovation and intrapreneurship, digital factory or disruptive labs, you will learn from this tool which works like an innovation calculator, it’s actually quite fun to run it! To start, click here, see how you rank, and get pieces of advice for improvement.

Image credits: Pexels.com 1, Pexels.com 2

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