Execution is a competency needed to effectively leverage your organizations investments in innovation. That’s why Intrapreneurs are important. Execution is a core competency of Intrapreneurs.
Execution is a learned experience. It is a process that is driven by the decisions and actions that are taken to move a project forward. The measure of success is not whether it was delivered on time or on budget but whether it delivered value – to your customers and the bottom line.
Execution is not something that you think about at the end of the project, but throughout the project. It is an attitude, a competence, and a set of behaviors that motivate people to bring things to a successful conclusion.
Execution requires clarity of vision, an iterative process to get there, and the ability to deliver business value. It also requires having the right skills and expertise, someone able to simplify the complex. These are things that Intrapreneurs do and capabilities they’ve acquired.
1. Clarity of Vision
Clarity of vision is one end of the spectrum, execution is at the other. As the project evolves the vision will shift and so will the process for getting there. Most entrepreneurial efforts never actually wind up where they initially intended because they cannot account for all the variables that will eventually get in the way. It is not until you move forward that you begin to see what an idea really is or what it can become. The original idea can morph into something bigger, bolder or different. Environmental, organizational, technical and competitive factors need to be continually integrated into the plan. Planning becomes an iterative process. Keeping everyone on the same page will be important in laying out a roadmap for implementing it. Intrapreneurs consistently align vision with execution even if the target has changed. They communicate plans clearly, effectively and often.
2. Iterative Process
Execution is not an event but an integral part of the development process. Iterative plans require an iterative development process. As customers begin to see what you are building they will begin to see more clearly what they really want. Requirements will change many times during the duration of a project. More time will be spent testing, anticipating potential hurdles, dealing with new threats and risks to project plans. Activities that require the strategic allocation of resources, assigning responsibility and accountability, instilling discipline and taking calculated risks – things Intrapreneurs do well. Intrapreneurs understand that there has to be flexibility to change course when it is necessary. They look at execution as a series of decisions. They know that every change provides an opportunity to increase the business value of an idea. They effectively manage the development and change process.
3. Business Value
Intrapreneurs create value because they have an unrelenting focus on customers. One takeaway from the Lean Startup Conference was “Know exactly what your customer values. The customer rarely buys what the company thinks it sells.” That’s why Intrapreneurs engage customers in dialogue and discussion. They are good listeners. They build strong working relationships with customers to better understand their needs and what benefits they hope to achieve. Before they execute their ideas they test and validate them in the marketplace. In turn they understand the limits of their organizations capabilities. They know what is possible and what is not. They are content to work with what they’ve got. They leverage existing resources to build solutions that provide both social and economic value. Intrapreneurs are effective at integrating opportunity with capability to deliver value.
4. Execution Skills
Execution requires having the ability and skills to establish and achieve challenging goals. There are certain individuals who excel at execution. They know how to get things done, tear down barriers and push through obstacles. They are strategic and analytical, goal oriented, creative, and decisive. They are good negotiators, deal well under pressure, and manage time effectively – all attributes of Intrapreneurs. Identifying and leveraging their skills throughout the process will ensure that tasks are completed. Intrapreneurs are high on closure and will do whatever it takes to get things done. They will step on toes and break rules if necessary. Intrapreneurs are willing to work until they find the best solution. They take full responsibility for delivering results.
5. Simplify the Complex
Execution is a complex set of interrelated variables that must come together perfectly to achieve precision. The conventional approach is to build the simplest map, disregard as many things as possible, as soon as possible. Intrapreneurs on the other hand like to linger in complexity. They embrace complexity. They don’t try to simplify things too quickly. They take a more holistic approach. They keep the entire problem in mind while they work on various parts. They look at linear and non-linear relationships, multi-directional paths, things that might not initially make sense. They know that truly creative solutions spring from complexity. Intrapreneurs are able to take a set of complex interrelated variables and translate them into a simple solution. Then communicate them in terms that others can understand. They simplify the complex.
In his article 5 Must Have Skills of Intrapreneurs, Dan Toma says “A successful Intrapreneur runs successful projects – it’s as simple as that.”
Intrapreneurs know that delivering business value is the end game but executing with precision maximizes the value that is delivered to customers and the organization.