Moving mountains, disrupting markets

By Angela Bradbury on 27th July 2017

Gmail: now in its 13th year, this is now the undisputed king of desktop email clients. Its reign seems unshakeable, holding a 22% market share, up to which Outlook sidles up as a lowly second at 6%. This, is a shining example of what happens when employees are released from straight-jacket roles. Innovation and a ground-breaking product, is what happens when 20% of a workforce’s time is committed to personal projects they feel passionate about (and we can also thank this kind of employee empowerment for Post It Notes, the FB Like Button and Shutterstock’s Spectrum).

You may be thinking, sure, they can afford for their employees not to do their actual job a fifth of the time.  What about the rest of us?

And you’ve got a point - this is the world’s most valuable company, one that banks an unfathomable $145 million every, single, day (that’s £1,675 per second). But all companies have talent. All large corporations have a rich seam of innovation that often lies untapped – ideas, commercial acumen and creativity, just waiting to be released.

This is where intrapreneurship comes in, and for where to start, read on.

Stir up rapid innovation with a hack-a-thon or tech competition

Shutterstock hosts a now world-renowned annual hack-a-thon for employees – an event that has achieved much since its first flagship event back in 1999.

The concept is a simple one: 24 hours, thousands of employees, 1 challenge – to code something incredible. The result? Corporate cohesiveness, released creativity and employees who engage with their company – some would say a Holy Grail of employee outcomes.  Competitions in general can be just as effective – with employees incentivised by big wins and recognition, and driven to do better than their fellow workers.

Commit fully to intrapreneurship with a dedicated labs department

Investing in a permanent 'labs' team places your stake in the ground and signals your seriousness about stoking an entrepreneurial spirit amongst your employees. A lab also takes intrapreneurship from being a novelty, short-lived programme to a department that becomes a part of your corporate tapestry.

Take the Labs of Wells Fargo – where the sole remit was to drive innovation in the realm of mobile banking (and so far, the department has created digital signatures, geo-location services and mobile wallet options). And North American home improvement company Lowes is currently rolling out the LoweBot – an artificial helper to assist customers in finding products and checking inventory (all while human staff can help with the more in-depth queries). The LoweBot is a direct invention of Lowe’s ‘Innovation Labs’.

Keep an eye on the competition and an ear to the ground

With big brands and global powerhouses becoming more entrepreneurial, your competitors are likely already catching on. Stay ahead of the pack by being informed as to what they’re up to, when and what results they’re achieving because of their intrapreneurship efforts.

Automated news alerts make this intelligence reconnaissance simple – with updates delivered direct to your inbox (try WatchMyCompetitor, TrendKite or Google Alerts).

Seek out leading external expertise (wherever in the world it may reside)

So far I’ve championed the force for good that your internal employees can be – and yet there are always times when external experts could and should be sought – for answers, insight and guidance that only they may provide from a place of deep knowledge and years upon years of experience.

At Chime we put you in touch with industry experts to match your exact needs. Whether on artificial intelligence in healthcare, or smart homes in Japan, a call with one of our experts can help make sure your entrepreneurial employees are running in the right direction.

When intrapreneurship becomes a part of corporate culture, adopted and embraced by the C-Suite and workforce alike, amazing things happen. If you can equip your talent pool with the time and resources to explore their ideas, and guide them along the way, your company’s own Gmail might be just around the corner.