Hatching Your Organisation’s Eggs

When I was in high school I used to spend most of my Tuesday evenings at my grandfather’s place. We played cards, drank lots and lots of lemonade, ate the best fries of the world and most of all; we cared for his pigeons. If you ever cleaned out a pigeonry, you undoubtedly know that it’s smelly and boring work. Not really a teenager’s favourite. However, one day he told me something I will probably never forget. He taught me how to hatch pigeon eggs. Here is what I remember...

The first and most important step is to select clean, well-formed (this means regularly shaped) and recent eggs (max eight days old). Before you put them in your incubator make sure temperature and moist levels in the machine have stabilized at an ideal state. Once the incubation has started you have to be patient; eggs need roughly 18 days to hatch. Some will be a little early while others might be late, some will never come out. However, if you selected the right eggs and monitored the environment properly, most eggs will hatch and you will find yourself to be the proud owner of many little pigeons. (Don’t stop caring for them right now; they still need help to grow!)

Now that I have taken my first steps in the amazing world of intrapreneurship, I discovered this: developing business ideas within a larger organisation is pretty much the same as making pigeon eggs hatch. You have to select the right one, create and maintain a proper environment, be patient and have a little luck. If you manage all of this properly, you will feel the thrill of hearing the egg crack, of seeing the little beak break through the hard shell and of the new idea being born. That thrill is what I want to pursue each and every day.

But how to get there? How can we enable intrapreneurship?

What are the elements to combine in order to generate a flow of ideas? I could brag for hours about dozens of best-selling books I have read and convince you that I am an absolute expert. But, to be completely honest with you: I’m not. Luckily, I don’t need to be an expert to have a pretty good idea of where to start. If you indulge me for a little longer, I’m going to share it with you.

Thirty years before I was born, Douglas McGregor, an American social psychologist, published a book with as title, ‘The Human side of enterprise’. It is a 480 pager that will cost you approximately 25 euro to order online and lots of time to read. Don’t bother with it, I will tell you what I still remember. According to Douglas, there are two opposite theories about human motivation: theory X and theory Y. Where theory X supports an authoritarian management style, theory Y encourages a more participative approach. Theory X is all about lazy people needing to be directed, controlled and forced to work. Theory Y states that the capacity to solve organisational problems using creativity, ingenuity and imagination is widely spread amongst human beings. Douglas also wrote that effort in work is natural and that most people accept and seek responsibility. He concludes that such as it is, our capacity is vastly underused.

This leads us to a big, big question:  If we are all capable of being Intrapreneurs, then why aren’t we? For me, it is all about environment. The organisations we work at should do everything in their power to unleash the potential we hide inside our ‘corporate shells’. Obstacles should be removed, impediments to creativity destroyed.

Sir Richard Branson once said:

“I think I learned early on that if you can run one company, you can really run any companies. I mean, companies are all about finding the right people, inspiring those people, and drawing out the best in people. And I just love learning and I’m incredibly inquisitive, and I love taking on the status quo and trying to turn it upside down.”

What I conclude from both men is:

  • One of the key traits of a successful entrepreneur is continuous growth in personal development. Education is a life-long, ongoing process, which is vital to stay current and relevant in an industry.
  • On the other hand you have creativity. I feel that creativity has never really been on the top of the management agenda. Yet, it’s an essential element if you want your organization to keep hatching eggs.

So why not try to change? Let’s embark on a journey to creativity. Let’s go to a place where people’s ideas can incubate, grow and hatch. And even more, let’s do this together.

 

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