Creative Employees and Innovation: Staffing With Intrapreneurs

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Could Albert Einstein have made it in today's corporate world? Image courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress

Could Albert Einstein have made it in today’s corporate world? Image courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress

Change Starts with the People

Employees that are typically out of step with the company mindset, often have the new ideas that might lead to future growth and profitability. Obviously, there are people who are poor personnel choices that are not talented, nor are they creative in the sense of new business development. What is important to a company intending to foster intrapreneurialism is to recruit employees with experience in other industries, particularly industries that live or die by new product development.

Moreover, employees that aren’t an obvious fit may be a key to new opportunity. As Thomas Chamorro-Premuzic  states in a Harvard Business Review article, “Natural innovators tend to have more vision, research I’ve done indicates. They see the bigger picture and are able to understand why things matter (even if they cannot explain it).

Intrapreneurs, New Ideas and New Business

Even when the current company has a hiring freeze in place, there are always individuals that seem to continuously come up with new ideas, creative approaches to problems, and interest in new technology or products. Many are difficult and as mentioned above, odd.

Typically these people thrive on change, new ideas and the excitement of market dynamism. Leaving them in a line operation or management career path will frustrate them as well as the organization – this personnel decision is like utilizing a racehorse to pull a plow.

This type of employee may come from any branch or position, but if a company is serious about finding new products and new markets to exploit, they must place these individuals in a more “formalized” product/marketing structure, but outside the typical realm of conventional product development. In this area, the business can tap the employee’s  abilities and talents on an ongoing basis, with a leader appointed by senior management.

Ray Anthony, author of  Fast Forward and Step On It, an expert in organizational creativity, told Decoded Science, “The most important aspect of organizational creativity is the recognition that virtually everyone, under the right circumstances can be creative, if there is creative guidance at the top of an organizational pyramid. What that means is that in trying to foster a creative environment, whether in a specific group, department or larger organization, the senior manager involved must be a creative force within that organization. That becomes a comfortable impetus for intrapreneurialism.”

New Product Research & Development

The group will need to have multifaceted expertise in  marketing and development functions and require financial oversight within conventional budgetary constraints. In general, it will be less formal, yet still must perform against whatever appropriate and realistic financial standards that are established. New products, technologies or even whole industries spring from creative people whether their disciplines are engineering, marketing, sales or R&D.

Ultimately the employee’s creativity needs to find a home and a channel from which new ideas and products flow. Management, particularly in this economy, must make their corporate environment a comfortable place for creative yet perhaps quirky people, where new ideas are developed and lead to new business and significant future profitability.

Resources

Chamorro-Premuzic, T. Seven Rules for Managing Creative-But-Difficult People. (2013). Harvard Business Review.

C. Chui, L. Curtis, M. Intrepreneurs and Innovation. (2010). Strategic Finance.

Wayne, L. A Pioneer Spirit Sweeps Business. (1984). New York Times.

Kling, A. Rethinking the Company We Keep. (2007). Cato Institute.

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