Want to Encourage Entrepreneurialism?

  • Look for ideas at all levels. Entrepreneurial mindsets and behaviors need to be pervasive. But 53 percent of Accenture survey participants said their company does not support ideas from all levels of the workforce, which implies that leadership focuses its attention primarily on business decision-makers. Entrepreneurialism needs to happen top-down and bottom-up.
  • Provide incentives. All employees, including management, should believe good ideas will be rewarded in some way, especially the people with a reputation for successfully stoking the idea pipeline.
  • Offer rewards even for good ideas that fail in an instructive way. About three-fourths of survey respondents said new ideas are rewarded at their company only when they are implemented and proven to work. As a result, 27 percent avoided pursuing an idea for fear of negative consequences.
  • Develop risk management, governance and rules for tolerance of failure within business units. An enterprise has resources to absorb risk; individuals do not. Pushing risk and blame to employees may stifle the ideas a company needs to gain a competitive edge.
  • Educate employees on how to be relevant in idea generation. Management should work with and train employees to focus their ideas so they are better aligned with the company’s strategic goals. These have the best chance for success. At the same time, companies need to have a process to vet and discover which ideas to pursue and which to decommission. Working with customers as ideas are developed can be an effective way to get instant feedback and pave the way for fast decision-making.

One of the most encouraging statistics from the survey is almost half of respondents said entrepreneurial thinking is a skill that can be cultivated. That means training, mentoring, learning by doing and other methods have the potential to instill entrepreneurialism within a company’s culture and people.

— Matt Reilly and Yaarit Silverstone

This sidebar originally appeared in Talent Management's sister publication, Chief Learning Officer.