There’s no getting away from it. Innovation is now a critical part of business success. Globalization and rapidly changing technology are responsible for increasing competitive pressures, leaving once dominant organisations at risk of losing market share to more agile, disruptive companies. These new players are able to spot pain points and opportunities in the market and quickly react to them, leaving bigger, established organisations with rigid processes in their wake.
We have seen it time and again. Companies who thought they were untouchable, begin reacting too slowly to a major shift in their environment.
Blockbuster was at its peak in 2004, but filed for bankruptcy less than six years later when Netflix completely revolutionised the way consumers watched movies. Kodak dominated the photographic film market for decades, but ignored the emergence of the digital revolution for fear of the effect that it would have on the film market. It filed for bankruptcy in 2012. Similarly, global leader Nokia missed the arrival of the internet and the move to data as the future of communications. By the time the company reacted, it was too late, and it could not compete with the stranglehold that Android and iPhone already had on the market.
So what can companies do to avoid the same fate? The answer lies in developing innovative leaders through entrepreneurship training. When companies don’t keep up to date with the economic environment around them, or they close their eyes to the telltale signs that times are changing, then they will assuredly be left far behind.
Take a moment and think where Blockbuster could be right now if they had taken an entrepreneurship course and had received insight on the industry predictions. They could have made drastic, out-of-the-box changes to the complete design on their company, offering a well-respected and familiar name to battle the new, basically unknown Netflix. But instead, they were complacent, relying on the false feeling of safety and their former customer base, so they were too late to even make a viable attempt to compete.
No one wants to make the same mistakes as Blockbuster, Nokia and Kodak. No one wants to become the dinosaur surrounded by innovation, all due to a lack in entrepreneurship training.Here, we take a look at why entrepreneurship training is important, and provide you five practical tips to help you develop the innovative leaders that will help your organisation flourish.
Recognizing the need for an entrepreneurship training program
Corporate entrepreneurship is a proven strategy to help companies achieve a long-lasting source of competitive advantage. Also known as intrapreneurship, corporate entrepreneurship is the process of encouraging employees to behave like entrepreneurs within the business, all the while identifying opportunities and developing innovative new products and services to capitalise on them.
For corporate entrepreneurship to become embedded in the organisation however, it must be valued and driven by leaders. This is where many companies begin to fall short. The skills and capabilities required to successfully manage their core business are quite different from those needed to create a culture of innovation; inspiration and motivation, which will guide employees across the organisation.
Until recently, leadership training has not focused on the need for continuous innovation, leaving leaders with an outdated mindset and capabilities. A corporate entrepreneurship training program can be used to address this knowledge and skill gap.
The team at the Academy of Corporate Entrepreneurship runs training programs to cover everything from the fundamentals of corporate entrepreneurship, to detailed knowledge of each stage of the innovation process, plus the soft skills and capabilities needed to successfully implement an innovation program. AfCE can also equip leaders with cutting-edge tools and frameworks to further enhance their effectiveness.
Beyond the entrepreneurship program
An entrepreneurship program alone is not enough to develop innovative leaders. You must also cultivate an environment where leaders can hone the skills they need, and a culture that allows them to encourage and nurture innovative thinking throughout the organisation. Here are five tips to help you do just that.
Remove the fear of failure
For disruptive ideas to have the chance to emerge and be developed, leaders need to feel that that they can push the boundaries and make mistakes within the safety of the organisation. Promote an environment where risk is accepted, and mistakes are treated as an opportunity to learn, rather than penalizing employees for trying something new. After taking part in an entrepreneurship course, you’ll easily see how some of the best company guidelines or project outlines can originate from the most unguarded ideas, no matter how incomplete or initially unstable they may appear
If team members only opt to make suggestions that are based entirely on safe thinking, then chances are that they will only be rehashing ideas that they have heard elsewhere, perhaps subconsciously storing them to present when the moment had arrived. However, for inspiration to manifest and become a true plan or a creative change to old patterns, everyone must feel as if they are able to react spontaneously to the sparks of inspiration that spring from being open-minded.
Some of the best innovations are laid to rest before they’re ever even explained or tested. This is something that you want to avoid at all costs. Entrepreneurship training could be the key to keep that door closed forever.
Self-awareness is crucial
Self-awareness is arguably one of the most important capabilities of a leader and entrepreneur. To be truly effective and perform at their best, leaders need to understand where they can make the most valuable contribution to the innovation process. This lies in having a strong sense of their own strengths and weaknesses, personality traits, skills and motivations. Helping your leaders develop this quality through entrepreneurship training will enable them to better understand themselves and others, and allow them to effectively motivate and inspire their teams.
Embrace continuous learning and self-development with an entrepreneurship course
Supporting your leaders to continuously learn and develop produces a range of benefits, which will become more and more obvious with the help of a well-trusted entrepreneurship course. Not only will they gain a deeper understanding of innovation, but it will also inspire curiosity, encourage them to question more, and stimulate new ways of thinking. Learning can be anything from reading books and articles, to in-depth courses or entrepreneurship programs, plus working with an external entrepreneurship consultant. Leaders should map their current knowledge and skills against their goals and those of the organisation, and aim to fill any gaps that will help them move in the right direction.
These new qualities will not only be beneficial to leaders in the company, but, as they learn and grow with the assistance of the entrepreneurship training, this knowledge will trickle down through the entire organisation. It won’t take long before the entire landscape will change, transitioning the current work environment into a much more productive atmosphere.
Encourage seizing new opportunities
Successful innovative leaders have a broad awareness of potential roadblocks in new opportunities, but do not spend time over-analysing. While you want to encourage your leaders to consider the potential setbacks associated with pursuing opportunities, you also want them to see the advantages of new developments and have the courage to seize them.
Also, reinforce the value of collaboration, rather than tackling opportunities alone. More can be accomplished in a room filled with focused individuals who share the same goal, than solitary research and testing could ever provide. Brainstorming offers the best results with no set agenda, when a crowded table is filled with marked-up notes and open minds. If you can inspire this within your organisation, then you are a true candidate for further entrepreneurship training.
Allow them to develop their own system
Every leader will have a different approach to innovation, but nevertheless, they should have a defined system. Allow your leaders to develop their own system to effectively capture ideas, document actions, select and motivate their team, and monitor success. Having such a systematic approach will ensure that the right questions are asked, and problems are identified and resolved along the way.
This is when intrapreneurship within a company really takes precedence. Micro-managing your leaders is not an ideal scenario when you’re hoping to achieve forward-thinking and proactive decision-making efforts. Allow your leaders to do one of following two things: flourish in their systems and processes, or learn from their mistakes. Both will present a positive outcome, if you allow them to occur organically.
The best entrepreneurship programs are run by entrepreneurs
At AfCE, we know that the best entrepreneurship programs, are taught by people who have been successful entrepreneurs themselves. That’s why all of our mentors have proven track records, with over $35 billion worth of innovation projects between them. Through entrepreneurship training, they can transfer the skills and mindset necessary to develop effective innovation programs, plus the guidance to create the right environment where creativity and innovation can flourish.