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How to Empower Intrapreneurs

Steve Faktor, the CEO IdeaFaktory, has some good advice on how to breathe life into your organisation: empower your visionaries.

For a real-life example, he suggests we look no further than our TV screens where a new wave of better and more creative TV shows like “Breaking Bad” and “Game of Thrones” are changing the game. He believes the rise of these mold-breaking popular programs is due to visionary creators being “liberated of Hollywood’s notorious meddling, focus groups, and politics.”

He argues the same “liberation” could bring positive results in more conventional business organisations too. But in corporations, he quips, “You’re likelier to find a mermaid in the elevator than an empowered visionary in the conference room.”

Visionaries are the risk takers who need to be given the chance to test their new ideas, but according to Steve, they are often stifled by bureaucracy and frustrated by executives scared of change. Steve encourages executive to identify their visionaries, trust their instincts, give them a budget to test, operationalise their ideas, and “Make it safe to fail and try again.”

This sounds great, and no doubt Steve is on to something, but is this advice really feasible for everyone? Clearly it’s geared towards massive organisations, which have pockets deep enough to take risks and absorb the costs of failed ventures.

But small and mid-size companies can face many of the same problems as large corporations when it comes to stifling visionaries, yet their need to avoid risks is much greater — they can’t absorb the costs of failure so easily. At the same time, these companies need to innovate if they are to grow. So how do you strike a balance?

What if there was a way to test and refine innovative ideas before managers are asked to throw money at them, and a way that avoids the bureaucracy and actually encourages creativity?

With today’s advancements in technology, software can allow employees to share their ideas and participate in the business in a meaningful way, one in which they can feel truly engaged in the process. As opposed to an anonymous box where you drop a suggestion in and never hear anything about it, they could receive instant feedback, and contribute together with their colleagues by voting “yay” or “nay” on their ideas, and perhaps adding suggestions and feedback of their own.

And imagine if only the best ideas to make it to the surface, managers and decision makers could have more time to do what they do best — drive the business forward. Rather than dealing with a mountain of crumpled up pieces of paper with illegible scribble, trying desperately to find a needle in the haystack, they could see what their employees have put forward together as a group, and only see that which is of value — the ideas of the visionaries within the organisation would no longer be hidden and missed.

Stifling visionaries is a problem many organisations have. If you’re in that camp, then equipping your organization with the means to harness and channel the ideas of your visionaries may be part of the solution you need.

 

Harness the power of employee ideas.

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