If report writing was a competition, the second report has won by five pages (82 versus 77). Report 2 mapped out intrapreneurship in the South East (https://irelandsoutheast.com/2021/02/24/summary-of-the-first-report/), the second report studied intrapreneurship in a global context and compared Ireland to a number of other European countries.
The conclusion is similar to report 2. It is very difficult to find examples of best practices relevant to a typical SME in Ireland. Let alone find any example of government intervention specifically geared toward intrapreneurship. The good news is that there are more than enough angles to introduce intrapreneurship and develop a practical toolbox that makes sense.
Importance of intrapreneurship
The report shows that intrapreneurship is increasingly seen as fundamental to the survival of a business. For example, a recent study by Accenture claims that up to 75% of organisations today emphasise intrapreneurship to some degree. Also, in Ireland, a quick browse of a job seeking website shows that most vacancies describe intrapreneurial behaviour (e.g., being proactive, taking charge, taking the initiative) as a core value of companies a requirement for those seeking employment.
Positive impacts intrapreneurship
The research shows a positive impact on innovation capability, continues improvement, job performance and profitability. The external ecosystem plays an important role, and that is good news for Ireland, as Ireland has a very dense and well-developed enterprise support system, both formal and informal.
Within a company (in the report, it is referred to as the internal ecosystem), the factors are broken down as:
The most interesting finding is that intrapreneurship is truly holistic and needs a deep involvement from the company leadership. Bottom-up intrapreneurship initiatives seem to require the top-down support that corporate entrepreneurship offers. For example, an intrapreneur wanting to launch a new product benefits from a specific process to promote this idea in the organisation, ideally gets some resources and time to go forth with his/her idea and afforded the necessary room to fail and learn from previous mistakes. If not, actual intrapreneurial behaviour will be very seldom indeed. On the other hand, perfectly executed corporate entrepreneurship strategies will not yield any effect without the specific activity of individual intrapreneurs. For example, top management can encourage intrapreneurship and set up an in-house intrapreneurship trajectory. If no employees come forth with an idea or want to take on this role, this effort will be in vain.
Large versus small, case studies and the assessment
From our conversation with the experts and the steering committee, what is loud and clear is the large difference between small companies and larger enterprise. In smaller companies (up to about 15 staff), culture is much more important than structure. In fact, structure is an impediment. In companies of that size, the role of the entrepreneur is crucial for success in intrapreneurship activities. When companies are small, it is the perfect time to embed intrapreneurship in an organisation.
The report makes the distinction between large and small organisations, and that will be the basis to translate the findings to a toolbox for SMEs, such as formal versus informal, speed of decision making, leadership, reward structure and opportunity cost.
The report also lists several practical examples of how intrapreneurship programmes are run, such as match making with start ups, managing the idea waterfall, clarity of strategy intent, training tools, extreme customer focus and we plan to drill down further in the tool box.
Part of the toolbox will be an assessment to help you map at what stage the company is in intrapreneurship. The report maps a number of example question on how to assess attitude to risk, organisation of intrapreneurship, attitude to failure, skill development, leadership, etc.
The country analysis
The country analysis (Denmark, Finland, Holland, Estonia and Slovenia) did not show anything spectacular. All counties emphasise the importance of education and ecosystems. Estonia is interesting for its digital approach to enterprise support. The research suggests that government both local and National have a crucial role as sponsors creating and giving credence to programmes that can support the emergence of formal intrapreneurial activity within SMEs and enterprise.
The next step is the development of the toolbox. For that, we will engage with the stakeholders such as Enterprise Ireland and the LEOs and a sample of SMEs. At the moment, we think that the toolbox will consist of 4 maturity levels (and you can test which level you are at). Have a look.
The toolbox will help you to move up to the maturity stage. The challenge remains to make this as attractive and practical as possible for SMEs. We are open to any suggestions. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.