Ready, Set, Innovate!


It has been said that only 5% of employees are natural innovatorsFewer are intrapreneurs. Where does that leave family businessesScott McCulloch investigates. 

Soyou want to become an intrapreneur? Get ready to innovate and perform. 

Intrapreneurship has given birth to outstanding product innovations worldwide.  

Facebook’s prototype development hack-a-thons gave birth to the media giant’s ‘Like’ button, which has since become synonymous with the brand. 

Sony’s wildly popular PlayStation exists because an employee dismantled his daughter’s Nintendo. Ken Kutaragi spent hours making the console faster and user-friendly. 

His bosses were not impressed, but senior Sony employee saw value in Kutaragi’s innovation. That was 1994. In the fiscal year ended March 31, Sony shifted a cool 96.8 million units of its iconic PS4. 

Minnesota-based 3M has long recognized creativity in its workforce. It was there where 3M scientist Spencer Silver introduced the ubiquitous Post-It Note in 1980. 

At Googleintrapreneurs came up with Google News, AdSense and Gmail. 

The list goes on...

Smart companies want their employees to be intrapreneurial because it generates revenue and gives them a competitive edge in their industry. 

It also enables them to be the disruptors and not the disrupted. Where does that leave family firms? 

Thinking about the next big thing that will drive their industry forward or about ways to improve what they’re already doingsays intrapreneurship expert Peter Vogel.

Both are important and need to be considered in the ecosystembut we need to be clear about it.

Vogel directs the Lean Intrapreneurship program at IMD Business School in Switzerland. 

Business leaders are increasingly faced with disruption from start-ups to tech companies moving into their specific space.

Families need to tap into the creativity of their employees and not just the family. Why? Commerce is more globalized. Industry lifecycles are shortening, and the rate of change in business is accelerating. 

Eduardo Gentil, partner at Cambridge Family Enterprise Group, says volatile and unpredictable world markets means family firms need to be nimble. 

Gentil, who is a facilitator at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, says intrapreneurshipcan help family firms diversify, regain customer focus, even become more agile. He cautions,

That said, there is no silver bullet or secret recipe that will work for every single family.  

At a minimum, intrapreneurs and family must know what know what they are in for. 

Providing clear definition of responsibilities and use of frequent feedback and mentorship are vital to the success of the family intrapreneur. 

Get rules in place. Set expectations for family members who work as intrapreneurs in the family enterprise. And measure performanceGentil stresses. 

Performance metrics and evaluation sessions should be in place to ensure the new projects or initiatives can have greater sustainability.

Sustainability and innovation towards the next big thing. 

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