We’re all racing to be more entrepreneurial, to spark – or reignite – innovation that creates breakthrough products, establishes new markets and brings in new customers. It’s not just for small start-ups; large, established companies are prioritizing efforts to stimulate entrepreneurship from the inside. They’re often just not very good at it.
Intrapraneurs – innovators inside established businesses – face unique challenges, says innovation and entrepreneurship expert Nathan Furr. But they can be overcome. In anEntrepreneur article published earlier this month, Furr and co-author Jeff Dyer, offer practical advice for avoiding “the four traps.”
- Create separation. Fight for your resources, then focus on creating independence from the primary business. Be relentless in seeking profitability over growth.
- Watch, don’t ask. Observe your customers first, understand the tasks they are trying to accomplish and then propose innovative solutions.
- Choose new over incremental. Incremental innovation usually results in less bang for your buck than bringing a new solution to new customers.
- Go beyond core competencies. A broad search – combining technologies and ideas from different fields – typically outperforms a narrow one in generating solutions.
“Corporate innovation, both incremental and radical, can maintain or reignite the growth of established companies,” says Furr, who has focused his extensive research on developing insights and tools to help innovators revolutionize how new ideas are created, refined and brought to market. “It’s all about applying the right process, perspective and people” to the task.
You might also be interested in listening to Furr’s “Bottom Line” radio interview about the “Innovator’s Method,” his latest book (Harvard Business Review Press, 2014) co-authored with Dyer. An excerpt from the book is also featured in The European Business Review.
Furr is a professor of strategy and innovation at INSEAD Paris, as well as an entrepreneurship professor at Brigham Young University.