Regardless of the ‘era’, change has generally proven to be a challenge. Why? It pushes one out of their comfort zone and requires ‘letting go’ of approaches that have historically proven to be successful. We are at a stage in the organizational development process where we need to empower change agents to champion fresh perspectives. This approach brings a significant dose of relevancy in a rapidly evolving market that necessitates a highly engaged workforce. Intrapreneurship is a good starting point, where employees can initiate change without being asked and can come out from behind ‘skunk work projects’ to more transparently challenge existing models and undertake the new.
The primary hierarchical management model of today is the by-product of the industrial revolution, a model driven by fundamental changes in agriculture, textile manufacturing and new economic policies that has served its purpose for years. It was the Industrial Revolution where organizations began to employ a large share of human resources and effectively organize the workforce. And we still use the same model, but without the efficacy of the past. Today we have a different type of worker; a highly educated distributed human intelligence network that is trapped in silos and constrained under the traditional pyramid structure. It is my belief that organizations can more effectively respond to market changes by emulating the qualities of entrepreneurs who are disrupting modern approaches and incorporating new techniques.
Most firms are infected by disengagement and stymied by layers of decision making, yet paradoxically these very firms are filled with knowledge workers who have insight, solutions and potential. There is no simple way to breakthrough existing barriers and entrenched habits, but there is a way to start to create new innovation processes.
With good leadership and an appropriate environment to support creativity, there are effective ways and approaches that will begin to transform the organization. Providing the intrapreneur the space to allow things to unfold e.g. running foresight workshops to determine the key indicators that will shape an emergent future and allowing teams to explore, collaborate and pose new plausible directions is a simple way to provide some context to the development of new models..
Innovative companies such as Google and 3M continue to encourage employees to take initiative and drive new applications that will shape the market. It’s imperative that firms establish processes and frameworks in which these new models can thrive, otherwise we simply move from a highly structured organizational system to creative chaos.
Existing bureaucratic approaches have to be managed in order to support the intrapreneurial culture and creative collaborative models that will enable an inclusive and distributed innovation culture.
Organizations are the winners when employees constructively challenge the familiar and are granted the latitude and change tools (agile innovation, design thinking, collaboration, foresight, Idea management, etc.) to explore new models and solutions.
The new model for sustainable change relies on successful intrapreneurs facilitating ‘possibility sessions’ and both developing and supporting the organizations new pathway.
I am not advocating an immediate companywide change initiative and organizational re-design, but rather a commitment to intrapreneurship as a critical step in the internal discovery process of what is possible and how to create a transitional framework in which to develop the new.