Purposeful intrapreneurial achievement is arguably the best version of job satisfaction for me. I am currently experiencing a few of my multi-year efforts culminating into a level of success that may lead to step change soon – in fact it is starting to happen. They are all linked to bootstrapping a research and innovation capability in a tertiary institution into a transformed environment leading the trend and holding up globally.
My overarching experience during the journey is described well in the article I link to above:
Intrapreneurs are by definition going ‘against the grain’ inside their organizations. Driving a venture that could significantly benefit the company and its customers but is internally ‘inconvenient’ – because it needs support and development that looks very different to the company’s ordinary operations – is challenging to say the least
Over a period of six years I worked really hard to transform a very immature research and innovation capability into something that has a unique nature and is now financially viable. It is now at the point where the organisation can own it as a core strength and use it to further build its international profile.
There was a culture shift throughout the organisation, and we now have a vibrant innovation ecosystem ready to be taken to the next level. What used to be perceived mostly as a necessary nuisance is now enthusiastically owned and grown by multiple players.
This is not only satisfying. It also makes me reflect on the journey. As it is I have walked the fine line of incentivising changed behaviour while I also had to dodge pushback from those who thought they knew better how to do it because they know how others do it elsewhere or ‘how we have always done it’, not getting the fact that nowhere in the sector is there any meaningful success to learn from, and our environment has both constraints and opportunities not present in other related sectors.
Bootstrapping something from virtually nothing with no additional resources calls for a very pragmatic approach and lean process. I like being creative within given constraints. In the process I had to create a completely new business model and realign the use of resources.
Consequences? Pervasive systemic change makes you see things that aren’t for real if you are not careful!
- Some of the long term performance metrics for my environment became completely unstuck and irrelevant. Have to keep an eye on those!
- The financial model I developed and work by was not understood and incorporated in the regular financial reporting in the company correctly immediately, so what was growth was initially reported as problems. Remember that others report without necessarily checking with you what the figures mean!
I really enjoy shaping the future by changing things from ‘how it has always been done’ to something new – so we are now not only aligned with current global best practice, we also have products that set the trend.
That is what intrapreneurship is right? Great fun and really satisfying. Large complex organisations provide rich environments for change.
The best for last: Having a great team working with you is the cherry on the cake. Their enthusiasm kept me going on the low days.