In a World of Global Competition, Ability to Consistently Turn Ideas into Products is a Unique Advantage
Hi, I’m Mark Bower, the co-founder of Intrapreneur Nation and co-creator of many of the tools you’ll find here. I’ve spent most of my career flipping between startups and big (often global) companies. I founded Intrapreneur Nation because I was frustrated that those big companies – who often aspired to be creative, innovative and entrepreneurial – frequently had no strategies, no processes and no tools with which to steer new ideas from concept to launch.
Instead, new ideas were driven through the existing project management process…
A project manager would be assigned to help write the plan and business case justification: capital costs, operational costs, resourcing, Gantt charts, ROI projections, risks and more.
But the thing is – for innovation projects – these kinds of business plans just don’t work.
Nobody knows with any degree of certainty how the project will play out. Which means that the original plan is often far too optimistic, and contains far too many unknowns to be used as a real forecast. The business case is nothing more than a fantasy plan. An illusion, crafted with the sole purpose of getting through the review gate.
But managers and executives, lacking any other system to use need something to measure progress against. And so, without an alternative, they cling onto the business case document and the project plan. Even if they know it’s guesswork.
The Anti-business Business
No-one intended for businesses to operate in this way – to deliberately put obstacles in the way of effectively serving their customers.
Conventional management theory, rooted in the 1950s, defined organizational structure and best-practice processes within the constraints of the technology of the day: Rigid hierarchies. Top-down management. Incremental improvements. Low defect, Six-sigma process improvement and so on. For over 60 years those principles have served businesses well. And they continue to do so. Modern companies must certainly be able to deliver their products and services with great quality and reliability.
But nowadays, thanks to instant global communications, international supply chains and low-cost IT services, the barrier to entry for new competitors has never been lower. Customers have almost unlimited choice, and are firmly in control.
To compete effectively with dozens or even hundreds of new market entrants, a modern company must also have the ability to rapidly discover what new products to produce. They need a new, complementary set of entrepreneurial management tools designed for dealing with innovation projects. Projects that intrinsically come laden with extreme uncertainty.
In other words: Businesses need a new entrepreneurial management toolkit.
The Road Forward
Overcoming all these obstacles and embracing an innovative and intrapreneurial culture is not easy.
But, I have good news: We’ve seen students, customers and mentees make the kind of progress that took us years, in just weeks or months. We've seen first-hand how people can leapfrog past problems, challenges and failures that held others back for a long time.
That’s how I know that with the right strategies, tools and mindset, you and your company can do the same too.