Can intrapreneurship provide a structure for an innovation culture and a ‘People Centred Change’ approach?

I recently invited Steve McCreadie of The Lens to speak about the potential for intrapreneurship in business, its scope to unlock potential, and improve innovation and workplace culture.

*For the purpose of this session – Intrapreneurship is defined as the use of behaviours/skills associated with entrepreneurship, applied within a bureaucracy. We have inherent assumptions about what those behaviours are, and a belief they are helpful to organisational mission and progress.

Steve and I hosted a round table discussion with a group of Change Programme Directors who are tackling the challenges facing businesses across the Retail, Engineering, FMCG, Professional Services and the Third Sectors.

We asked:

What are your initial impressions re market response (post Covid-19)?

  • Tension. Pressure and urgency to evolve quickly in order to be sustainable, but simultaneously cut costs.
  • The challenge of local level innovation and adaptation vs a coordinated, group approach leading to silos. It is difficult to know how best to encourage ideation and innovation but wrap controls and governance without stifling it.
  • Covid has exposed a lot of people and their leadership styles. This presents a huge training and development vacuum.
  • Many companies have lost sight of the customer. Covid has forced us back-to-basics and in some cases re-invention!

How has Covid / remote working impacted change programmes?

  • It has massively raised the importance of wellbeing & linked employee health with performance
  • Culture – it has never been more important to get to know people as people, and foster human connection in a working environment
  • A clear and considered data strategy is imperative – capture, accuracy and utilisation has never been so important

I asked Steve to share his thoughts on innovation – and the merits of an outsourcing vs insourcing vs a hybrid approach

“Innovation is a collective journey of creativity. All the ideas you need sit within your workforce. In our work within The Lens we know this creativity will flow when the conditions are right. That means raising the levels of permission across organisations to talk about ideas. Particularly ideas that might be challenging.

Diversity of thought is crucial to that process. How able are we to have constructively critical debates, perhaps even passionately held differences of opinion?

We see this best where organisations align on purpose. So, if we agree on our purpose, that creates the frame for us to have different views on how to achieve it. So, we know from the outset we are on the same side.

When leaders increase permission across organisations, to listen and learn, greater diversity of thought emerges.

In our work in The Lens we have seen countless examples of the collective genius available in organisations. There is an increasing body of knowledge about how we can best harness that, supported by research and literature.”

Change fatigue – the need to do things differently

Change fatigue is the sense of apathy or resignation people feel when facing what they perceive as too much organizational change.

  • Change is hard. Change always requires work, especially at first. Whether you implement new technology or new processes, until your people learn new ways to complete tasks, it takes more work and time.
  • Problems occur. Some of the changes you implement won’t work as planned. Your team will be tasked with the challenge of figuring out what went wrong and how to solve the issues.
  • Change is continuous. Evolving economic demands, professional requirements and client expectations mean change is never going to stop. That fact alone can cause people to become discouraged.

A large portion of change programmes fail due to resistance from the workforce. Repeated attempts to change ways of working can lead to cynicism and “yes men and women”.

Some simple tips to overcome change fatigue:

1. Recognize and address change fatigue

2. Have a plan

3. Improve communication

4. Track progress and celebrate milestones