Corporate Entrepreneurial Leadership
By Dr. Gregory Price
Got an idea for a new business, product, or service within your organization, but feel nobody is listening? Organizational leaders who are not seeing growth in their core business risk losing momentum and market share in their business. They may also observe lowered employee morale and possibly witness a brain drain. When this happens, it can be difficult to recapture a sustainable presence. Corporate entrepreneurship can be an answer to this slide.
What is Corporate Entrepreneurial Leadership?
Corporate entrepreneurship is defined as individuals and/or teams within an established company that can leverage its assets and resources to build a new product, service, or new business that can stand alone and contribute to the organization’s market position, revenue stream, and organizational mix. Several organizations have used different models to gain the most from the investment in their employees. Google is probably the most talked about organization that has moved down this path. They give employees 15% of their workweek to focus on innovation such as new product development, services, brand development, and the like.
Researchers have identified four different models in use today, they are: The Opportunist Model, the Enabler Model, the Advocate Model, and the Producer Model. Each model has specific qualities, depending on the organization’s purpose and goal. Organizations that adopt any one of these models can position themselves as a more competitive player in their industry.
The Opportunist Model – Often individuals will get their organizations started on corporate entrepreneurship through this model. Organizations that may find this model useful may not have any corporate entrepreneurship model in existence. What is more, the leaders of the organization may not even be aware that they need to create one. Yet, employees and their entrepreneurial tenacity, against all odds, may develop something and present it to leadership. The Opportunist Model is born.
The Enabler Model – The model is driven by the organization. A process within the organization is set up allowing employees to develop new concepts should they be willing to do so and are given adequate support. The opportunities that employees are allowed to develop must fit within the strategic direction of the organization. And, in the end, the employees will claim no stake in the outcome. The Google model discussed previously follows this path.
The Advocate Model – The model fits within the organizational structure where leaders have created a culture of innovation. In this scenario, innovation is a staple of the organization. The model allows for budgets and organizational structure is assigned as businesses are created. For employees, the model has depth where the organization provides support and assistance to the extent that employees can go on retreats. The retreats are 180-day contracts where business plans are built and leadership teams review the proposals.
The Producer Model – The model exists in mostly larger corporations where funding is a function of the model. The objective is to encourage employees to develop and innovate. One aspect of this model is to encourage cross departmental collaboration, build disruptive businesses, and create careers outside of current business units. Internally, the organization has gone so far as to develop an Accelerator Program to support those entrepreneurially inclined.
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Dr. Gregory Price is the Associate Dean in the School of Applied Leadership at City University of Seattle.