Recession-Proof Your Business With Intrapreneurship

We humans like to be secure in our expectations. Predictability of others’ intent and actions helps us look toward the future. Human nature resists change. But when something is just not working, something needs to happen, and change is usually the answer. Successful people know this. Successful companies know this. They exist because they do their job well – constantly and consistently. To be constantly and consistently doing your job well, you need to be able to adapt to changes where and when necessary. Environmental changes are unpredictable and inevitable and there is no way to avoid them. Coping with change is an undeniable feature of modern management. The solution often lies within the organisation during these times of change. Leaders need to look within to get the organisation out of the rut it is in. Starting a new business unit in the organisation – referred to as intrapreneurship – when times are tough might not be the run-of-the-mill solution, but often your own staff can be the drivers of change you need to not only survive, but thrive.

In his doctorate, Dr Biddie Biddulph, Head of Focus Consulting, a division of The Focus Group, researched the topic of intrapreneurship in corporate South Africa and concludes that fostering this trait in business can be your organisation’s golden key to unlock future value as it creates a portfolio of opportunity with which an organisation can cope effectively with uncertainty and thrive in disruptive times.

Mastering Intrapreneurship

The South African economy is struggling. Some businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to simply survive, let alone thrive. Growing a business to new heights looks to be near impossible in a time where the only option seems to be to drastically cut costs.

During these challenging economic times, businesses may need to reassess their status and direction. It is important to understand the business environment of Southern Africa and know what it takes to have a business perform optimally within these harsh realities. Leaders need to ensure they understand the business markets in which they operate and evaluate their business strategy holistically and objectively.

Next, it is important to identify areas of unnecessary expenditure, replacing these areas with innovative ways of strengthening the business. Smart ways of cutting costs do not necessarily mean letting go of staff. A focus on intrapreneurship and starting a venture within the organisation or unbundling a division, positioning it as a separate business unit with its own focus and raising additional funding for that unit for example, could lead to the fresh and necessary revival of the business.

The reality is that often where there is an overcapacity of staff, you cannot keep supplementary staff or expand the workforce. In this instance, it may be necessary to hire the skills of a third party to assist with the assessment, planning and implementation of a restructure to ensure that objectivity it maintained. Looking at a business holistically, and strategically developing innovative and pragmatic solutions is as essential as is knowing when to make the cuts. While this can be a sensitive matter, it may be a necessary move to ensure the longevity of the business.

Old ways won’t open new doors and so the next step involves a laser-like focus on the people of the business to facilitate the process of establishing new ways of thinking and behaving to create a new business unit within the existing organisation. Leaders need to assist in the bureaucratic processes to ensure adaptations are smooth and successful, and should have experience with dealing with the resistance to change within corporate structures, “because when you get faced with a brick wall in the corporate world, a diversion that says to you ‘go away, I don’t want to talk to you,’ you need to be able to get around those blockages in the system,” says Biddulph.

People Centric Strategies

When an organisation finds a wall impeding its progress, leaders need to identify the blockages, threats and opportunities and chart a clear path to a profitable future. Through a people-centric approach, leaders need to subtly but firmly take their firm out of its comfort zone to ensure evolution. It is important for leaders to understand their employees and end-users before making any radical changes to the status quo.

“Understanding all stakeholders and getting in touch with the organisation’s people is key. You need to understand people’s needs and fears,” says Biddulph, “and once you do, it becomes a manageable puzzle that all fits together and ends up working well.”

Unless the people of the business buy into the transformation that needs to happen for the organisation to not only survive, but thrive, attempts at change will be futile. Leaders need to create buy-in through innovative and creative approaches to employees, management and clients. Engagement with all levels of the organisation sieves out important information. Engagement creates an understanding of how the organisation needs to change and what new strategies need to be introduced to get it to the point whereby the knowledge of the organisation is unlocked and the business continues to thrive.

About Focus Consulting

It doesn’t matter whether you are a big corporate or a smaller company, Focus Consulting has a team of experts that understand the business environment, and is particularly experienced in the dynamics of the business environment from an intrapreneurial perspective. Focus Consulting’s approach to tackling environmental changes has proven effective results. They understand the corporate environment and corporate culture, but they also understand how the small business functions, and that makes it really unique in experience and successful in its objectives to get your organisation onto the path of success.

About Biddie Biddulph

Dr Biddie Biddulph, who leads the Focus Consulting team, a division of The Focus Group, has been in the game for over 40 years and knows exactly what it takes to develop a company and help it reach its full potential. While his early career was in accounting, he later developed a very successful IT company, Astute FSE, which provides services to the financial services industry. He has just completed his doctorate in intrapreneurship through the University of Johannesburg.