While every business is born out of an entrepreneurial mindset, it often becomes less forward-thinking as it grows. Companies therefore need to create a culture of innovation among employees, one where all staff at every level are encouraged to generate and develop ideas.
Often those ‘on the front line’ can see issues (and therefore solutions) more clearly than senior management, who don’t deal with the day-to-day business tasks. As the examples below show, some of the best innovations have come from these ‘intrapreneurs’.
Enterprises that encourage a company-wide culture of innovation are poised to become and remain industry leaders in the modern marketplace. So, how to get the best from your employees?
Encourage employees to generate ideas
When Vodafone discovered that different areas of the business were working in silos at its Dublin headquarters, holding back new ideas and creativity, they decided to design a new working environment that would encourage employee innovation. They removed private offices, cubicles and meeting rooms; not even the CEO has his own desk. Employees work wherever they can find available space and symbols of power or privilege no longer exist. This strategy drives innovation by creating opportunities for conversation between everyone not only across different departments but most importantly at different levels. Vodafone have found this collaborative cross-functional working has brought about better team cohesion and enhanced productivity.
Give staff time to work on ideas
A growing number of companies are giving employees time to work on projects of their own choosing. Some companies hold innovation days; others have hackathon sessions – Facebook’s ‘Like’ button was born from such an event and has since become synonymous with the brand – while others again give staff a set amount of time to work on projects that excite them, developing and testing new ideas. Australian software company Atlassian encourages employees to take ‘FedEx Days’; paid days off to work on any problem they want. But just like FedEx, they must deliver something of value 24 hours later. To encourage innovation at Accenture, the company organised a Festival of Ideas, which saw 1,400 employees coming together in one place to brainstorm.
Invest in idea generation
To truly innovate, companies need to ensure a culture that not only supports new ideas but also executes them. Siemens started the Intrapreneurs Bootcamp AI to empower employees to drive breakthrough AI innovation for Siemens in an agile, customer-centric way. Instead of looking for external people, the organisation looked for the people they already had and who had a passion for AI, found out what they wanted to create and got them to build it. They received applications from 232 employees and accepted 38. These people were split into 8 teams, and each team had a mentor. From there they had 7 days over 7 weeks to go from bold vision to validated business concept. For Siemens, the teams were about breaking silos. It was completely irrelevant which department people were from or where they sat on the hierarchy.
Build innovation in
Several Hollywood movie franchises, including Shrek and Madagascar, encourage all staff – regardless of job title – to be part of the filmmaking process by sending in their own ideas. The employer also invests in its staff by providing access to courses such as artist development; giving them the skills, knowledge and aptitudes to pitch the next blockbuster animation.
Whether you want to build a business which works on an intrapreneur model or you simply want to gain a better understanding of business in order to generate more innovative ideas, a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree could be the ideal route. Wrexham Glyndwr University’s unique MBA is designed for ambitious, self-starting professionals who are looking to fast-track their career with a deeper understanding of business and leadership skills.
Industry-led and career-centric, the comprehensive curriculum covers key business disciplines including marketing, finance, strategy and human resource management, developing practical and theoretical business leadership skills. It will help you to develop key knowledge and skills, including creativity and idea generation, and finding solutions to complex business challenges.
The 100% online MBA has been designed to enable you to study at your own pace, on your own terms, so there’s no need to leave your current job. With six start dates a year, you can begin studying within weeks of taking the decision to enrol. There are flexible payment options and postgraduate government loans to cover the full programme cost, for those that are eligible.
For more, information, or to apply, visit https://online.glyndwr.ac.uk/mba/