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As part of the ESADE Alumni Refresher Programme series, professor Joan Riera (Lic&MBA 99), president of Active Development, gave an interesting talk entitled “Corporate Entrepreneurship. Bring on the rebels!
“We rebels are free spirits, said Joan Riera, advisor and consultant with more than 15 years’ experience as a coach in over 400 companies. He began by outlining the cornerstones of his double life. “On the one hand, I’m an academic at ESADE and on the other, I’m the president of a consultancy. This lets me strike a balance between a more theoretical world and a more practical world.
“In today’s ever-changing world, companies must learn to adapt. But corporations are slow to adapt and take decisions, particularly big corporations that need six months to decide about change, said Riera. Start-ups, at the other end of the spectrum, are the fastest to adapt to new circumstances. As Riera said, “the challenge of the future is to adapt, because the environment obliges us to, and this is where corporate entrepreneurship and intrapreneurs play a crucial role in the transformation of traditional organizations.
The professor defined corporate entrepreneurship as the strategy, processes and methods to identify, capture, develop and capitalize business opportunities in an orderly and professional way through cultural enterprise (known as in) and working with outside start-ups (known as out). Although it may not seem so, large corporations have workers, who may or not have been working there for a long time, who want to create something completely new, employees with an enterprising spirit: these are intrapreneurs.
This is why Riera gives talks in companies about how to set up programmes for this type of entrepreneur on their payroll in order to benefit both parties. For the company, this is a way of fostering systematic, on-going innovation and creating closer links so that workers can contribute more than their work. It also creates healthy in-house competition because “passion moves mountains.
One of the values that should emerge is the excitement about doing something completely different, plus the desire to achieve success that comes across when problems lie ahead. In this respect, failure is regarded as part of the process, like an experiment, because mistakes are a necessary part of the road to success.
There are differences between the traditional manager, with very clearly defined corporate goals, and the intrapreneur, who has freedom of action. Whilst managers are cautious about what they do and concerned about external symbols, intrapreneurs invest in stages, with expectations of success, and regard mistakes as opportunities to grow. “Being permeable to the outside and able to capture value are the main characteristics of the new profile, Riera explained. “The manager drives by looking in the rear-view mirror whereas the intrapreneur looks ahead and analyses the next curve.
Riera has developed 5 cornerstones for managing an intra-enterpreneurial programme which can be crucial for adapting to the environment.
The first is to define a strategy taking into account the company’s internal running and organisation. The second is knowledge of the ecosystem, with innovation training. The third and the fourth go together: firstly, finding projects and then, after making the most of the opportunities, capitalising on them and putting them into action. The fifth and last cornerstone is to manage and monitor the work to achieve success.
Practice is essential to enable the most traditional organisations to immerse themselves in a programme to pinpoint intrapreneurs. As an example, Riera mentioned his extensive experience and said that it takes at least three years to definitively set up a corporate entrepreneurship project.