The entrepreneurial scene in Stockholm is boosting business inspiration. I feel very inspired after an evening with disruptive new initiatives driven by true entrepreneurial spirit. As I this past evening have taken on the role as an advisor/angel/dragon, I conclude the work day with some questions; How can I help boost women’s entrepreneurial engagements and how do I drive even more intrapreneurship to the table? How can I spread the entrepreneurial spirit to form intrapreneurial spirit, thus creating growth and prosperity?
Boosting entrepreneurship with business
It used to be a words I threw at business leaders; “..let us boost business with entrepreneurship”. Aimed at the large organizations subject to getting stale, the phrase actually had impact. Everywhere growth is needed and disruptive solutions are considered part of the solution, entrepreneurship is one of the cultural tools.
Entrepreneurship is not the Holy Grail of corporate business, but it adds vitality, drive, new paths.. and inspiration. The financial values created set aside, these are very important factors to creating the right culture for Innovation. But entrepreneurial spirit also adds to the “personal reward” factor. Our studies on intrapreneurial activities have concluded that two major forces drive peoples willingness to create; recognition and participation. The spirit of creation and active participation, engagement and responsibility is not necessarily driven by financial terms, they are driven by the opportunity to have recourses and to be valued for being part of a creation and realization process. To learn and be part of a team are also important factors. I have made this into one of my key subjects when I lecture and I can go on and on about it.
Hence, I would like to confess to something. I think it is even as important to boost entrepreneurship with corporate business. I believe that one of the true values of our large organizations is the infra-structure they offer for entrepreneurship. We can find many examples of new business initiatives that, when managed correctly, drive significant value from large corporations and in return offer even larger values to them.
The intrapreneurs dilemma
Intrapreneurs should not be afraid of anything, but they are. They are afraid to loose the only thing they have that the entrepreneur doesn’t. They are afraid to loose their job. And yet, they all say you shouldn’t be. Easy to say; Harder to meet.
You are fired!
Gifford Pinchot , whom formed the phrase Intrapreneur in the 70’s has as his first commandment “Come to work each day, willing to be fired.” Boy, have I followed his path here. When I contacted Gifford about 10 years ago, one of his comments was regarding the fact that I had been fired after 1,5 days from my first job, with the words “We have been doing this for 70 years. We don’t need another crazy guy with new ideas”. Gifford said this was probably the best thing that has happened me and I actually started to see his reasoning. I turned that failure into part of my personal path. Since then, I can’t say I don’t care whether or not a team wants me involved (I do very much), but I am not afraid of loosing my job, especially not since I made my career into forming my own job.
I have noted that Mr. Pinchot has added 6 commandments, the 16th being “Don’t ask to be fired..” which very well aligns with my opinion. You can continue to be a creator, even within. Understand the rules and play by them, just as you would have to with investors if you left your organization.
You are hired!
When a few years after I got fired, a great Swedish entrepreneur decided to hire me, it was actually with similar words; -We have been at this for 60 years, we are about to do everything differently. Join me.
Join me. Not join us. Me. Those were the words of a leader. And I did join him. And I would again. Tributes to you Mr Jan H Stenbeck, for what you did to boost entrepreneurship in Sweden and for having me around for nearly 7 years. I believe that Mr Stenbeck had more to teach us than we understand. He actually made a thing clear to me; Capable, innovative and entrepreneurial people do fit into larger organizations. And they should be ready to share value and security in exchange for this talent that they bring. Mr. Stenbeck had an unseen ability of attracting those with an entrepreneurial spirit to his organization. Many left him to form their own ventures, so again a tributes to someone who helped shape industries beyond his own business. Those that didn’t leave him and his Group didn’t necessarliy lack entrepreneurship, they continued the creation, from within.
Few people step into their job willing to bet their stability. Unless a bit wacky of course. Wacky or single. Or wealthy maybe.
So, do we really need to have people leave their jobs to create new disruptive initiatives? No, by all means, it is 2013, not 1972. We can find new ways of collaboration, employment, value sharing and security. Be innovative, be bold, be daring. You are about to create history and with this value to the company, ask for something in return. The models have changed, its time we do. Stability is actually only offered from your inner strength. Security might have to be accomplished with external support. The organizations need that entrepreneurial drive within. Find a way, and play by those rules. There are other rules to bend, than those that work.
I ask myself
Is there something in my work with corporate venturing and creating intrapreneurial activities that also could affect the gender ratio of entrepreneurial initiatives? Well guess what. I think so. I think I might have one of many needed solutions. I believe that corporate venturing could drive significantly more competence cross gender and cross abilities to the table.
Are you curious? Good!