12.20.2013

How to change a company from the inside

,theguardian.com,

we miss Steve JobsSteve Jobs, the man who turned Apple into a digital cult, once famously described the Macintosh computer team as “a group of people going, in essence, back to the garage, but in a large company”.
Corporate America is having another one of its many Steve Jobs moments.
As corporate sprawl becomes the norm, some companies are encouraging their workers to break off into entrepreneurial, startup-like teams: giving a section of the office, in effect, to serve as the old California garages that built Hewlett-Packard, Apple and other innovative tech giants. The world has seen too many dominant companies – BlackBerry and Motorola come to mind – who dominate markets and then squander their lead by being too slow in keeping up with new ideas.
Meet the intrapreneurs
That "send in the entrepreneurs" approach to management already has its own corporate buzzword: "intrapreneurship". Intrapreneurs are supposed to be dynamic employees who create entrepreneurial, profit-making ideas from the inside out. For some employees, who have ideas but yearn for stability, it can be innovation, without the starvation: a startup feeling with a stable paycheck, a 401k and stock options. Some companies see it as a way to retain employees who might otherwise wander off and take their best ideas with them: Google encourages 20% of employee time to be dedicated to work on anything "cool or innovative".
Yet, as anyone who has worked in a big company knows, innovators are everywhere, and as Jobs himself showed, they usually prefer autonomy and freedom, and have a robust impatience with corporate bureaucracy. As a result, intrapreneurship now has the challenge of proving itself as a real trend and not just corporate wishful thinking.
Intrapreneurs, of course, existed long before the term "intrapreneurship" did. Maggie De Pree, a promising intern for Nike in Oregon, set about attempting to make her stamp at the company. She invented methods of cutting the energy bill across retail stores by switching to efficient lighting and sustainable materials, which in turn brightened the shop displays. Now she advises intrapreneurial teams at big companies. Miriam Turner, now at Sustainable Brands, formulated a smart idea at Interface, the world’s largest carpet manufacturer, for buying fishing nets from East Asian communities and recycling them as nylon for carpet production.
Still, though innovators grow everywhere, some companies prefer not to leave it to chance. A few have created formal programs to spur innovation.
Gib Bulloch founded Accenture Development Partnerships, an initiative to brainstorm ideas for big companies doing business emerging markets. He launched it as an employee at Accenture. “We set up a business within a business," he says. "It is not pro-bono; instead we use change making ideas to extend Accenture’s services to developing countries at a fraction of the cost.”
One of Bulloch's current projects includes using Coca-Cola’s expertise in distributing soda to bring better healthcare management to hard-to-reach places. “We couldn’t understand how Coke could reach every corner of the planet, even where there was no access to healthcare,” Bulloch says.>>>

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