Entrepreneurship is not only for fresh grads, who have big ideas and hearts of steel to take risks; it is also for organizations. Entrepreneurship is all about the mindset and transformation potential, especially in today’s knowledge economy. Now and then we see new and evolving platforms.
One of the entrepreneurs I admire is Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba.com, mainly for his visionary attempt to keep the entrepreneurial mindset alive within the Alibaba as an organization. In my consulting work, I came across many organizations, companies and institutes that failed to build their internal collective capabilities and challenging the existing status quo and repositioning and repivoting the business to maintain the spark of innovation alive. For years, my quest was to create such entrepreneurial mindset in companies with long history of operational struggle and so on until reaching nation-wide institutional entrepreneurship.
Three pillars are needed to ignite the spirit of Institutional Entrepreneurship in today’s economy:
BUILD YOUR COLLECTIVE COGNITIVE CAPACITY
Knowledge, learning and education are keys to developing the organization’s collective cognitive capacity. The head of the organization is always the founding father who sets the organizational values. He/she is also responsible for making the process of acquiring new learnings comfortable; active and valued.
How active an organization in producing and acquiring a new body of knowledge depends on how its training and development programs focus more on bridging knowledge gaps, developing innovation skills and enhance professional development. Such programs can improve internal networks and engagements, and in turn, build the desired institutional entrepreneurship.
Educational attainment is important. However, the growth mindset among students and adult learners is more critical and vital. Authors Arthur L. Costa, Robert J. Garmston, Diane P. Zimmerman coined the exciting principle of Cognitive Capital, which is more likely to empower individuals, organizations, government agencies and even a whole nation to generate better knowledge.
THINK BEYOND R&D
All governments in the developed world provide many programs to support new ventures, startups and innovation; and there are many funding programs for formal R&D programs. However, what if you do not qualify for such programs? Other activities beyond formal R&D could enable you to harness the power of Institutional Entrepreneurship.
Recently I was working on a new startup building Insurance and Warranty Depo. The CEO and I were working on strategies to enable the company fully use available resources. One of the ideas is to establish an R&D. Our perception of the new unit is not only focusing on the technical and technological sides, but we also added other non-traditional R&D activities that are proven to improve the company’s competitiveness and value proposition, yet not equally funded compared to formal R&D and innovation programs, such as:
- Improving performance,
- Customizing products or services,
- Re-Engineering existing processes and adopting new technologies,
- Developing new marketing approaches
- Implementing incremental enhancements to work activities.
LOOK BEYOND THE ORGANIZATIONAL BOUNDARIES
Always think ‘network’. Your organization is a part of a larger system that includes competitors, clients, employees, suppliers, etc. From each point in the network, you can learn something and implement a quick “pilot project’ to test the viability of an idea.
Under-organized entities such as startups are characterized by the close interactions between the key players and stakeholders, tolerance to mistakes and errors, and high resilience. These entities are always experimenting and trying new things. In addition, they look outside the boundaries of their entities for guidance and mentorship and hunting for ideas.
In the end, it is not enough to be a great entrepreneur; you have to maintain the mindset and capture it within your company or business.
 “Cognitive Capital – Arthur L. Costa (Paperback) | Raru. 09 Feb. 2017 <http://raru.co.za/books/622123-cognitive-capital-arthur-l-costa-paperback>.