Be A Courageous Moderate Risk Taker
Bulletin: Successful entrepreneurs are not high risk takers! Wow! They choose what they perceive to be moderately difficult challenges. Then they do everything possible to reduce the risk, such as locking up a distribution channel, forming a key partnership, or supporting the startup with a related service that generates revenue while they learn. You can be too cautious or you can be too wild. If it were your money would you risk it?
Huge dreams may have to wait until you have demonstrated your ability with more modest innovations. Your past successes build up the capital of your reputation. How much freedom will your reputation buy?
But don’t be too conservative. Consider the time you have left on Earth. You want to do something significant.
You want to build your reputation as an innovator, not as a drone. Be bold, but weigh the risks before plunging in. Once in, play hard, but with an eye to survival.
Be Frugal; Stay Flexible
The best intrapreneurial team is the one that learns the most at the lowest cost. Run lots of small experiments. Don’t buy fancy equipment if you can kludge up an experiment on existing equipment. Get started and begin learning. Buying expensive equipment too soon locks you into one way of doing things.
Be Creative About the Pathway
Bureaucracy believes there is only one right way to move forward, only one place to go for help and resources. If that were true, as soon as you ran into a non-believer with a monopoly on some form of approval or resources, you would be blocked. Fortunately, in the informal organization, there are many places to go for resources, assistance and feedback. Develop your options. Be crafty without being dishonest or self-serving. If you believe in your idea, find a way to make it happen.
Build A Team of Enthusiastic Volunteers
Unlike invention, innovation is almost never a solo effort. Recruit a team of enthusiastic volunteers. Accept appointees if they fit, but fight don’t accept people who can’t get excited about the idea. However they arrive, make sure everyone understands the vision and strategic intent of the team and has a heartfelt commitment to it. Share the task of building a vision. Credit others whenever possible; leaders must suppress pride of authorship. But accept the leader’s responsibility to make the tough decisions when, amidst the chaos of new ideas, participation does not bring about consensus.
Be clear about sub-goals, targets and each team member’s responsibilities.
Build A Network of Sponsors
Every innovation needs a network of higher-level supporters who create a coalition to keep the project alive. Show potential sponsors a “can-do” creativity and the ability to follow through. Seek out managers whose advice you truly value, .
Ask For Advice Before Asking For Resources
Recruiting people to your cause is best done gradually. If you approach a would-be sponsor and say, “I’ve got this great idea and I need a big chunk of your budget and headcount,” you will be met with resistance. If you say, “I need your advice, do you have -five minutes?” most people will say “yes.” Don’t ask them if the idea is good or bad, ask for advice on how to move it forward.
If they give you five minutes of advice, they have already spent five minutes of their time on your idea. Either your idea has potential, in which case that was a good use of the company’s resources, or your idea is worthless, in which case they have wasted their time. Since it is probably too soon, on the basis of five minutes, to tell objectively whether your idea has real merit or not, the strong natural tendency having invested time is for them to make themselves right by believing your idea is worth investigating.
On the other hand if you ask for resources and they say “No,” or “Let’s wait a bit,” the reverse psychology applies They have only made a good decision if your idea is mediocre or worse. They will unconsciously downgrade your idea’s value to make themselves right. Continue to ask for things that are relatively easy to give. Never make a request that is likely be denied.