Companies that ignore the need to innovate, do so at their peril. We have seen countless examples of companies over the years that thought they were invincible, only to be put out of business by younger, smaller, more agile companies. Each of these companies placed too much faith in the strength of their brand, and ignored the need to adapt their offering to keep up with a changing market.
But how can organisations avoid falling into the same trap?
Successful companies are future proofing their businesses by harnessing the benefits of corporate entrepreneurship education, and tapping into their existing pool of talent. Corporate entrepreneurship, or intrapreneurship, as it is also known, is the practice of allowing employees to behave like entrepreneurs and pursue innovative ideas, within the organisational setting.
Here we take a look at whether entrepreneurship can indeed be taught, and how to integrate corporate entrepreneurship education into your business.
Get in touch today and find more about how you can bring the benefits of corporate entrepreneurship education to your company.
Can corporate entrepreneurship and innovation be taught?
The question of whether entrepreneurs are born or can be taught, has long been a hot topic of debate. Some people argue that their innate qualities cannot be learned in a classroom, while others believe that they can, but only entrepreneurs should teach entrepreneurship.
Whichever side of the argument you subscribe to, it is impossible to ignore the rising number and popularity of courses teaching entrepreneurship, and more recently, intrapreneurship. While it is possible that a certain percentage of entrepreneurial skills are in your DNA, there is a large proportion that can be acquired, nurtured and honed, and this is what entrepreneurship education aims to achieve.
While “born entrepreneurs” may have certain inherent qualities, they are not immune from the pitfalls that cause startups to fail. Fundamental knowledge and skills, such as project management, delegation and financial awareness, still have to be acquired to successfully navigate the business world.
At the Academy for Corporate Entrepreneurship, we firmly believe that, with the right approach, corporate entrepreneurship is a skill and mindset that can be transferred through coaching and education. All of our mentors have been successful entrepreneurs, with impressive track records of success. Collectively, they are responsible for the creation of over $35 billion worth of innovation projects and have founded at least two startups each.
Our results are a testament to the fact that corporate entrepreneurship can, in fact, be taught. We have seen the failure rate of innovation initiatives fall from as high as 90 percent, to a more palatable 30 percent or lower. One of the keys to success however, is in choosing the right people to develop, which brings us to our next question.
Should all employees take a corporate entrepreneurship course?
Although corporate entrepreneurship is something that can be developed, there is certainly some foundation to the notion that certain people are naturally more intrapreneurial than others. This means that, while you may wish to expose all employees in the business to the principles of intrapreneurship, it may not be worth the resources to put everyone through an in-depth corporate entrepreneurship course.
Instead, it is possible to identify the employees with the highest potential for inclusion in an innovation team, and direct focused training towards them. As part of the ideation process, we use our Intrapreneur DNA Test to take the guesswork out of selecting the right employees.
Scientifically developed, the test is founded on the principle that there are distinct personality traits and characteristics common to successful intrapreneurs. Employees are mapped and scored against qualities like intellectual disposition and problem solving, as well as social intelligence and experiential disposition. AfCE has found that evidence-based testing such as this, has an 85 percent accuracy rate in predicting intrapreneurial success, and combined with the right culture, can be the determining factor for if a team gains traction with a project.
Corporate entrepreneurship education and training should not be viewed as a one-off event though, but more as a continuous process. Doing so keeps employees more engaged, gets the inspiration flowing and enhances the process of innovation within the business.
Innovative ways to educate your intrapreneurs
If you need some help embedding education into your company, here are five innovative ways to try:
Make time for learning
Many organisations fall into the trap of only paying lip service to training and education, still expecting employees to complete their normal workload while learning. To make education a priority, set aside time for it and protect it. Not only does this take the pressure off employees, but it also sends a clear message that employee development is valued, which in turn boosts morale and productivity.
Arrange skill shares
Every employee on your innovation team brings with them a different set of strengths and skills, which can be valuable when shared with other members of the team. Arrange for employees to participate in skill shares, where one member of the team presents to the others. Whether done in a formal or informal setting, skill shares can build confidence and leadership skills, while giving other members of the team the opportunity to develop new knowledge and skills.
Hire from within
Giving employees the opportunity to progress within the company can be extremely motivational, particularly for budding corporate entrepreneurs. If you have positions that are difficult to recruit for, consider making the investment in developing existing employees by training them with the necessary knowledge and skills to fill those positions in the future.
Share success stories
Generate excitement and increase motivation with your team by sharing success stories from other companies who have harnessed the benefits of corporate entrepreneurship. These are a great source of inspiration and can help employees see the potential results of their efforts.
Bring in an innovation coach
Bringing in an external trainer or innovation coach can completely transform your company’s corporate entrepreneurship education program and drastically improve the chance of success for any new innovation projects.
Future proof your company. Get in touch today and see what corporate entrepreneurship education can do for you.