Mavericks in the workplace
What is your experience of developing / or dealing with an entrepreneur inside an organisation?
To my experience, it is a question of balance. Every organization I consulted with, wanted their people to be entrepreneurial, unable to realize that doing this would involve certain changes to the fabric of the organization itself.
The challenge of course, is that organizations (or their leaders) do not understand what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurs are fundamentally rule-breakers or challengers. Organizations survive on conformism.
Entrepreneurs are focussed on finding new ways of doing the same things, most large organizations say, follow my way!
Some organizations I worked with experimented with hiring Entrepreneurs and getting them on board as full time employees. That didn’t work either.
Over a period of time, after having tried to inculcate entrepreneurism and having experienced some Internal Entrepreneurs, I realized that to be a successful entrepreneur INSIDE an organization, requires some competencies that are different from a stand-alone entrepreneur. So I am going to respond from the perspective of the Internal Entrepreneur.
Here’s a brief note on what I have learned so far:
1. Internal Entrepreneurs (IE for short) need to be more flexible than their standalone counterparts in their ability to work within constraints and systems. They tell themselves that this is a necessary evil and learn to deal with it. Their standalone counterparts reject this reality and either try to change it (which usually fails because the organization culture is stronger than an individual) or quit the system
2. They have an ability to leverage the system against the system
3. They have an acute sensitivity to how much stretch the system they work within can take. And they stretch the system to near-breaking point and then pause there.
4. Networking/Relationships play a critical role in an IE’s success. Specifically, their ability to build Allies, to find Executive Sponsors, who in a sense “protect” them while they do some “wild” things, or who give them the legitimacy to do so.
5. IEs have an ability to clearly demonstrate that while their methods may appear to be “illicit” their hearts are in the right place and that they’re aligned to the same larger goal of organizational success as everyone else. This is a very powerful process and it leads to a dynamic where most of their detractors begin to see them as necessary allies in getting some things done which would normally not be possible. Kind of like old western towns hiring gunslingers to clean up the town –they didn’t like it, but they knew these guys were needed.
6. They ensure that when they do something outrageous, they have someone “watching their back”
7. They have an acute sense of corporate politics and while they don’t get ensnared in it themselves, they understand the minefield and are able to navigate it well
8. Unlike their standalone counterparts, IEs have more patience. They realize that in order to work within the system, radical things might take a little more time. They have a high emotional resilience and an ability to articulate, communicate and market their strategies and ideas – to the appropriate audience! And that’s another key differentiator.
I attended a 3 hour session by Prof. Bala Chakravarty of IMD, Laussane, who gave us this awesome example of an IE. He said James Bond represents all the qualities that are needed. The man is part of the British Civil Service – probably one of the most bureaucratic organizations of all time – and yet continues to defy systems, processes and rules, but survives because his commitment to cause and country is unquestionable. And delivers consistent results. I loved the example!
I also think that in today’s day and age when competition is at warp-speed, we need to cultivate IEs and build the necessary culture to enable them to thrive and not just survive!
Related articles by Zemanta
- 7 Uncommon Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs (ducttapemarketing.com)
- Business Courses Colleges Don’t Offer (startupprofessionals.com)
- “Entrepreneurship Vital to Prevent Double Dip Recession”, Says EMLYON, International Business School (newswire.ca)
- Encouraging Intrapreneurship (Abilene Startup Blog) (myventurepad.com)
- Doing The Right Thing (markpeterdavis.com)
- Passion And Goal Setting For Entrepreneurial Success (tokitover.com)