Companies profit when their managers feel empowered to succeed. Both benefit when manager-intrapreneurs run their careers like a business but still within the company.
The impact of the financial crisis that stemmed from the subprime lending debacle in the United States has been felt globally.
Indonesia may start feeling the pinch of the economic meltdown in the U.S. and in some European countries as early as next year, dragging down fairly outstanding growth in Southeast Asia's largest economy, according to experts.
Indeed, next year's market will definitely be different from today's and yesterday's. Finance Minister Sri Mulyani, in an investor gathering this week, revised the economic growth forecast for next year to between 4.5 percent and 5 percent from the Indonesian state budget target of 6 percent.
Meanwhile, the state budget assumptions for the rupiah and inflation for next year are no longer feasible in view of the sharp depreciation of the rupiah against the dollar over the past several weeks. The budget had placed the rupiah at Rp 9,100 against the dollar and year-on-year inflation at 6.2 percent.
In addition, increasing interest rates aimed at controlling inflation will be crimping consumption in the country of 220 million people and will gradually erode company profits.
Unquestionably the global economic turmoil will result in deep and substantial changes for companies in Indonesia. Managers have to be aware of these changing scenarios and have to design strategies to get out of this crisis.
Some major companies have already restructured their operations in fundamental and meaningful ways. These companies believe that "traditional managers" are not appropriate during this crisis. Given the complex economic turmoil and hyper competitive markets, it is urgent for traditional managers to adopt innovative, creative and entrepreneurial approaches to get out of the crisis and to gain sustainable profits.
Hence the "manager-intrapreneur" was born to improve on the old concept of traditional managers, whose scope of work is limited to planning, organizing, leading and controlling. Manager-intrapreneur is a concept whereby companies behave entrepreneurially to become more competitive and productive in the marketplace.
Every manager must equip himself with innovative thinking and the entrepreneurial spirit. Some companies have already initiated entrepreneurial approaches. The founder started the business full of entrepreneurial spirit, but that spirit was slowly eroded under the weight of the size, bureaucracy, complex processes and hierarchy within the company.
These companies are often hungry for some of the spark, speed, risk-taking bravery and innovation they once had. Therefore, these companies should seek ways of reinventing or stimulating their entrepreneurial roots again. The manager-intrapreneur is the answer. The manager-intrapreneur encompasses a set of activities, attitudes, and actions that are believed to help companies recapture some of the forgotten magic.
Companies that practice the manager-intrapreneur approach
Research has shown that the very successful Fortune 500 Companies such as 3M, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Motorola and Citicorp have successfully used the manager-intrapreneur approach to transform existing mature business units, to provide challenges to managers and to "survive" in the global market.
Let us take a look at 3M, one of the companies that has gained from the manager-intrapreneur approach. 3M has a standard policy that allows all employees to work on developing their own business ideas at least 15 percent of the time they are at work. One of the big breakthroughs was the concept of Post-It-Notes which was pioneered by an employee that wanted something that would not fall out to mark pages in his hymn book at church.
In 1974, Art Fry, who directed the choir in his church, could not keep his hymns marked properly in his choir book. After attempting various methods, he decided he would try using some non-permanent adhesive that was the result of an earlier failed invention at his workplace.
By placing this adhesive on the back of his markers, he found he could keep the notes secured in place and then easily peel them off when he was done. Today, Post-It Notes can be found on almost every desk in Indonesia, and the invention continues to be one of 3M's top-grossing products.
How to develop manager-intrapreneurs in your company?
These are some methods that breakaway companies could use to foster the manager-intrapreneur approach: * Provide ways for manager-intrapreneurs to stay with their companies by creating decentralized units of corporate organizations or strategic business units (SBUs). * Allow managers to do their work in their own way, provide a variety of options in jobs, innovation efforts, alliances and exchanges, without always seeking permission . * Tolerance of risk, failure, and mistakes: Is risk-taking encouraged? Are people allowed to learn from mistakes? * Manager-intrapreneurs receive "incentives" in the internal enterprises they create.
The most important factors for long-term success in business are people and their invaluable knowledge bank. We cannot buy or steal it, but we can create an environment where employees feel they are free to use their creativity and innovation to improve their employer's standing in the market. People and what they know are the most critical factors for success. If they quit, these people could be our future competitors. Dare we take the risk of losing these people?
The writer is a business consultant and lecturer at several MBA programs in Jakarta. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org