Tag Archives: intrapreneurship

Gaining Entrepreneurial Experiences In An Enterprise Environment

Look out ‘blockchain’ and ‘transformation’, there’s a new hyped word quickly rising through the ranks – and it may soon eclipse you both: ‘intrepreneurship’.

Intrepreneurship is a philosophy or set of experiences that allow a professional to combine the authority and accountability of entrepreneurship with the (relative) safety and job security of a corporate gig.

There is nothing easy about being an entrepreneur, despite the glamor assigned to meteoric success stories like Apple, Tesla, Uber, and Facebook. The high point and low point of entrepreneurship are actually the same: at the end of the day you are responsible for everything that happens – good or bad – even if it seems beyond your control. This accountability drives healthy risk-taking and builds a sense of ownership that is often missing in corporate roles that provide a soft landing.

Being an entrepreneur sounds like a great idea, but what if it were possible to get that experience without taking on the risk of leaving a position with a guaranteed salary and benefits? That’s where intrepreneurship comes in. Functions like marketing, sales, and operations seem like a natural fit for the intrapreneurial movement, but so is procurement! We just have to be prepared to either seize the opportunity or create one of our own.

Build a better mousetrap…

“…and the world will beat a path to your door” as the aphorism attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson goes. No one has built more ‘mousetraps’ than procurement, nor have they contracted for mousetrap maintenance services or optimized relationships with mousetrap manufacturers. This knowledge and perspective is priceless to a company trying to create something new that they can introduce to market. The right incremental improvements can turn whole markets upside down. Procurement should have a voice on every corporate innovation council or ‘lab’ and should participate in those experiences as an absolute equal – not a courtesy invite. Realizing how valuable our perspective is, and putting that into words, becomes a ‘business’ plan that procurement can use to drive top line growth.

Identify unaddressed needs

“Wouldn’t it be cool if…?” Procurement spends so much time trying to fulfill defined business requirements that we can often spot unaddressed needs before the company and its suppliers do. Many times, these needs are just to the right or left of current supplier offerings. An intrepreneurial procurement professional will seize this opportunity and partner with a supplier to make it happen – taking on both risk and vision definition and seeing the R&D process through. Procurement’s company is then the first to benefit from the new offering, and may have a stake in the associated intellectual property.

Look, learn, and listen

Procurement’s mandate – in the broadest conceivable sense – is to ensure that the company derives the greatest amount of value, and assumes the lowest level of risk, from every dollar they spend. The projects that might fall under that sort of an umbrella are far more expansive than traditional spend analysis and strategic sourcing. Anything unique going on at the company should include strong representation from procurement.

That includes mergers and acquisitions, new product development, strategy planning, etc. Depending on the project type, there may be an ‘organic’ beginning. Procurement should always be on the lookout for opportunities to take on more responsibility and join in on unique projects – without waiting for a formal invitation. After all, very few people are ‘invited’ to become entrepreneurs. Most chart that path forward on their own.

Once you’ve walked a mile in an entrepreneur’s shoes, it is hard to imagine ever going back and working in a traditional enterprise setting again. And who knows? Maybe the next round of wildly successful, disruptively innovative startups will be founded by former procurement professionals.

Big Ideas in Big Companies

Making significant changes in a business can be challenging and is often especially difficult in big companies where it’s hard to get your voice heard, and break through protocol and resistance at the top.

Big Ideas Big Companies

Here at Procurious, we’ve been asking for you to submit your Big Ideas ahead of our Big Ideas Summit 2016.

We firmly believe that every procurement professional has a unique vantage point in the industries, communities and businesses they work in. Your Big Idea, inspired by some of the amazing experiences and insights you have, could be the one to change the face of the procurement profession.

Red-Tape and Resistance

However, getting your ideas heard and implemented is often easier said than done. Change can be implemented more readily in smaller businesses or start-ups, where there are fewer employees and greater flexibility, and roles are more diverse or interchangeable.

In big companies there is more red-tape and resistance to change. It can be difficult to make your voice heard by the right people when there is a fixed hierarchy and more stakeholders to consider. If you want to be a game-changer in a big company, having communication skills and the confidence to assert your innovative ideas is key.

As for the people at the top of these organisations, it’s their task to ensure they are inspiring intrapreneurship and considering the potential for great ideas to come from anyone, and anywhere, whether it be a graduate or a supplier.

Communication

People at the top need new ideas and new perspectives, so the chances are they will appreciate an employee taking the initiative to pitch an original idea. If you are fortunate enough to have this opportunity, don’t be complacent. Prepare, rehearse and ask for feedback from colleagues and friends.

It is crucial to deliver a slick and compelling pitch, which captures the attention of those listening. How you sell your idea, and convey your passion for it, will make all the difference.

Your audience needs to know what is so great about your idea, how it stands out, and if it will be worthwhile. You should consider how this change can be implemented within your organisation, and how you can measure its success.

What problems does this idea solve for your business? If you can’t articulate these points in a concise and convincing way, your voice won’t be heard and your ideas will be discarded, no matter how fantastic they are.

Commitment to Your Big Idea

Excellent communication, despite its importance, might not be quite enough to seal the deal with your Big Idea. It often takes greater persistence than just one great pitch.

Big companies, and those at the top of those big companies, can be averse to change and reluctant to take risks particularly if the change proposed is a big one. Chris Lynch, CFO at Rio Tinto, believes that, in larger companies, “the bigger the idea, the greater the resistance.” A flawless business plan might not be enough to relieve any hesitancy your employers have.

Your confidence, passion and perseverance are key. If you give up at the first hurdle, your idea can’t have been worth fighting for, and colleagues or employers will doubt you ever had the courage of your convictions.

Additionally, you can demonstrate your drive and commitment by doing your homework. Don’t get caught out by not being up to speed and seeming unprepared. Make sure you’ve done the background reading, made contingency plans and considered every eventuality. Again, your audience will be impressed by your motivation.

It can take years for an idea to come to fruition within big companies, and you might face a series of hurdles along the way. Don’t give up on yourself or your ideas. Keep dreaming big.

Inspiring Intrapreneurship

It is not solely the responsibility of the employee to push for change in large organisations. Senior decision makers and those at the top can help by being encouraging and harvesting intrapreneurship.

Even if one particular idea doesn’t tickle your fancy, the person pitching it is someone to be encouraged and supported as a future innovator and game changer.  These are the people on the inside who can think outside existing limits, the ones with the creative skills to reinvent companies and drive change.

As far as procurement goes, there is always room for the intrapreneurs who will become leaders, influencing entire organisations and developing breakthrough solutions for a variety of organisational issues.

A Big Idea Can Come from Anyone

It doesn’t matter if someone is experienced or inexperienced, a recent graduate or a long-term employee, they can still contribute a great idea to a large company. The best ideas could come from someone or somewhere you least expect.

As procurement professionals it is important to listen to our suppliers as much as our employees. No enterprise is an island, and collaborative change can be the most rewarding of all. Our partners on the outside can see what we on the inside can’t, which is why it’s important to heed the advice and suggestions suppliers make. It is a valuable approach to perceive suppliers not simply as an expenditure but as value-adding co-workers.

As the pace of change increases in business and procurement, and new trends and technologies are developed all the time, organisations cannot afford to be close minded when it comes to new ideas. You never know what you are going to hear if you open your door and create a culture of innovation in your company.

If you’re interested in finding out more, visit www.bigideassummit.com, join our Procurious group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.