Another project that was pioneered by a Google intrapreneur by the name of Paul Buchheit. Buchheit made the initial template for Gmail, particularly the search function (the first of its kind from email service providers) and increased storage capacity. Today, Gmail remains one of the most widely-used email platforms on the web; driving key traffic to Google's products. And all thanks to the brainchild of one of their employees.
Google has mastered the art of showing intrapreneurs the way to become comfortable in making decisions in the face of ambiguity, and with the idea of failure and then learning from it. The most successful and profitable intrapreneurial environments build that into their culture. That is how you foster intrapreneurship and that is how you grow talent - and hang on to it.
One of the cardinal sins that many businesses commit, whether it is implicitly or accidentally, is to stifle the creativity of employees who are bright, ambitious and have the drive on climbing the internal ladder. Oftentimes, old school management systems and their associated bureaucratic processes leave these talented mindsets with little opportunity to flourish.
A creative and innovative environment and associated management structure that encourages idea generation is essential in nourishing and feeding the abilities of employees which helps to minimise staff turnover. Companies that meet innovational ideas with a brick wall lose great employees and potential intrapreneurs to those companies who value and welcome their genius minds.
Let's look at yet more examples of heavy-hitter companies who adopted the intrapreneurial mindset and hit home runs out of the park. If intrapreneurship hadn't been encouraged in the following examples, we just might have missed out on some of the most pivotal technological events that have shaped our lives today.
Sony – Playstation
Not many people are aware of how the original Sony Playstation came about. In essence, it was a prototype of the original Nintendo console created by an intrapreneur named Ken Kutaragi who was working for Sony as a junior member of staff.
Kutaragi had been tinkering with his daughter's Nintendo in an attempt to make it more powerful and deliver a better gaming experience, and eventually he came to the conclusion that an independent soundcard would improve the quality of game that could be produced.
Unfortunately, his bosses at Sony didn't quite agree and apparently ignored his ideas; until the CEO of the company recognised the value in joining the gaming industry. Kutaragi was allowed to keep his job at Sony while working on the prototype alongside Nintendo's development team. Incredibly, Nintendo rejected what would become known as the Playstation... and Sony jumped at the chance. The rest, as they say, is history. Sony's Playstation has brought gaming pleasure to millions and helped pave the way to gaming technology.
Posting pictures, liking posts, and keeping up with you friends and loved ones overseas is as familiar today as reading a book was to a generation decades ago. Facebook wasn't a light night idea session by Mark Zuckerberg and co. It was derived from numerous “hack-a-thons” where coders and engineers were given a platform to generate ideas. Yes, Facebook came about because the social network embraced a culture of intrapreneurship - and has been reaping the benefits ever since.
3M – The Post-It Note
How many times have we all used a Post-it Note? The humble Post-it Note has been used for decades to write down phone numbers, shopping lists and draw crude portraits of the person sitting at the desk opposite us. Did you know they were created in an act of early intrapreneurship in 1980?
One of the first multi-national corporations to recognize the creativity within their workforce was 3M. They allowed their employees to spend up to 15 percent of their work time developing new projects and brainstorming innovative ways to make existing products even better. From here, scientist Spencer Silver developed an adhesive that wasn't completely rock solid – it was a more user-friendly 'stickiness'.
Unfortunately, he struggled to find an end use for it, until some five years later Art Frey, a colleague at 3M, recognised that the sticky solution could solve an everyday problem he was experiencing - his bookmarks falling out of his reading book. Bam, the Post-it Note was born, and after an intense marketing campaign became a favourite of offices and stationers across the globe.
In today's ‘adapt or die' corporate world, an organization has to be able to adapt and adjust their future plans on an almost continual basis. Innovative and successful organizations have a fluid, agile attitude, and accept that there may be several “right” ways to innovate. But, with great employee communication and change managers in place, Intrapreneurs can open up new ways of thinking that can lead to greater innovation, commercial success, and massive profits.
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