Ravi was managing projects with a mid-size company. His capabilities and knowledge of handling projects helped him move into business development. In one years, Ravi understood some challenges his client’s and prospective client’s industry faces. He made a new product recommendation to his head of marketing and CEO. Waited, waited and waited! For six months he did not hear though he categorically asked for a feedbacks and meetings. Next three months, he discussed his idea with a close friend and developed a prototype. Ravi was enterprising, took his prototype to some of his prospective and current clients. They were impressed; Ravi quit and started his company. In the deal, few existing clients of the mid-size company moved to this newly formed company of Ravi.
How often this happens that employees start their business and take few clients of the company. Not just that, they become competitors of their previous employer. For companies this is a reason to worry. How can a company open itself for entrepreneurial employee(s) such as Ravi in our case?
I. There are many investors – VCs, Angels, PEs, Seed funds – for entrepreneurs compared to what was available 5-7 years back. Secondly, many in this new generation want to be their own boss. The world is becoming competitive day by day, new technology, newer product, better interfaces etc. These factors are putting challenges to mid-size companies. If mid-size companies do not incorporate intrapreneurship in their organization, the company would be a big looser. What should a mid-size company do? In brief, a mid-size company should do the following:
- Plan – Annually, plan a budget for new ideas. If your company is doing it for the first time, define a budget for R&D or starting new businesses and commit to that amount in your strategy planning. This amount can be relatively lower in first year, reason? Next year you would have existing ideas executing and new ideas coming in. How to plan this is a separate discussion.
- Communicate – Communicate this idea to employees in your monthly magazine. If there is no magazine, announce it unconditionally to all employees. This mail should be sent from the desk of CEO.
- Ideate – Collect ideas or organize competition for selecting better/best ideas for execution. Make a team of interested employees or bring some experts from outside e.g. investors (not recommended by the author though) to discuss and finalize ideas. The expert (not necessarily investor) should sign or have some formal agreement that the ideas would not be disclosed outside the company. These ideas can be from same industry (of company and/or clients) or different industry/clientele. This and many other questions need to be answered in step 1 and communicated in step 2.
- Select – Once ideas are collected, idea selection is done, There are different approaches for selecting ideas, not necessarily all ideas will get funding. If none is selected, keep the idea collection window open.
- Execute – Execution is a process in itself, in this phase company needs to refine the idea, offerings & detail on execution plan.
- Reiterate – once done in year one, the process reiterates however, changing funding approach, because there are already few ideas into execution. So the repeat process become little tricky.
Why would an employee share his idea? – There should be a compelling reason for the employees to share their ideas; this reason has to be communicated clearly from the desk of the CEO as suggested in step 2. Importantly employee gets to experiment without leaving job and struggling with funding.
At times senior management thinking – what is the need? If you do not do it someone else will, if you do not give a platform, bright risk-takers entrepreneurial employees will leave. World is changing you cannot survive on what you have been doing in past. Survive now and stagnate in future or plan now and grow in future – decision is yours!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The author KRD Pravin has been an entrepreneur, innovation consultant and is currently involved with New Business Initiatives & Strategy Planning at SkillNet Solutions India. For detailed discussion connect twitter – @krdpravin / LinkedIn