The question on the minds of many Intrapreneurs around the world is whether the new normal will include Intrapreneurship or push it aside. Will there be room for Intrapreneurs to help create a new future or will economic concerns diminish their role.
It may depend on your perspective – how you see the world and your reaction to it.
Intrapreneurship has survived for decades through various economic cycles. It will in this one. But only if Intrapreneurs seize the moment. There is no better time to be an Intrapreneur.
According to Michael Page, ADAPT Global Recruiting, “Intrapreneurship is the #1 workplace skill for 2020.” We do not know if his comment is in response to the current economic climate or despite it. Either way it is a wake up-up call to individuals and organizations that we can no longer rely on the past. We must create a new future, a new normal, a different way of operating, a new way of being.
The pandemic has forced change on all of us. There is no going back. People who may have resisted change were forced to change, had to accept that change and deal with that change. Like it or not. For the first time many people can see what change looks like, feels like, and they can see their own reaction to it. They experienced extreme change. It is through these types of events that we see how well we respond to uncertainty, complexity and the unknown.
Ask yourself how well you have dealt with the current situation? What did you think, what did you do, how did you feel? Did you just let things happen to you or did you take charge and find new ways to cope with the situation? Did you sit back and wait until things became clearer before acting or did you find a new path forward? What are you doing that is different than what you did before? When did you realize that you had to leave behind many things that you have always known to be true?
A key capability of Intrapreneurs is their ability to deal effectively with uncertainty, complexity and the unknown. They do it all the time. It is what drives them, excites them, and motivates them. It is who they are. Change seems to come naturally to Intrapreneurs, but it was not always that way. They learned to cope with change through their own personal and professional experiences. Change is a learned experience. It is only when you became competent in something (like adapting to change) can you embrace it and eventually feel confident in driving change.
The question about the future prospect for Intrapreneurship may rest in what individuals and organizations have learned from this event and how they apply those lessons learned moving forward.
We have already seen organizations move to a virtual workforce, meetings, webinars, seminars, and conferences. A move that has changed the way organizations conduct business but is it sustainable, effective, productive, and profitable. What impact is it having on employees, customers, stakeholders, and supply chains. Does it fill a short-term need or support a longer-term business model? Think about it. Organizations were forced to change they did not proactively change.
We know that systems and processes have had to change to accommodate the new normal but what about people? Will we see a change in their behavior, their reaction to change, their willingness to try new things, take calculated risks, experiment, and find creative ways forward? I suspect that there will be mixed results.
We may not yet know how this situation has impacted workers. We can see the short-term response but may not know the longer-term impact. Individuals are facing many of the same issues as their organizations – is it sustainable, effective, productive, or profitable to work from home. Workers are spending all day in Zoom meetings, conference calls, or staring at computer screens. They too have been forced to change. For the first time they are now able to step back and look at their work, their organizations and themselves. They know they are facing the harsh reality of a new world order and may be questioning their role in it.
It is for all these reasons that Intrapreneurship is a way forward for both individuals and organizations. For organizations it is a new way of operating that provides significant value – higher levels of innovation, productivity, employee engagement and financial returns. For individuals it is a new model of working that keeps workers – engaged, creative, productive, and valued. We know however, that it is not as easy as that.
Intrapreneurship is all about change and change is all about people. Until we see a change in behavior on the part of individuals and organizations Intrapreneurship will only be a future desire not a new business model.
It seems obvious that things need to change but we know that change does not come easy in large established organizations. Organizations will see the situation as something to fix. Intrapreneurs will see it as an opportunity to create. It will be up to Intrapreneurs to drive change, manage change, and enable others to change if we expect to see progress come out of this crisis.
The biggest challenge Intrapreneurs have faced in the past is resistance to change. Will there be more tolerance for change, more openness to try new things or will organizations tighten things down and fall back to doing it the old way. Will organizations focus on economic recovery or talent recovery? Will they factor in what is best for humanity or the bottom line? Will they operate out of fear, anxiety, frustration, and despair or will they see hope, opportunity, optimism, resilience, and potential. I think the answer will be easy to see once things begin to open back up.
The future of Intrapreneurship may rest with the answers to these questions.