So, how can you get your employees to think like entrepreneurs? Well, the answer is somewhat simple and straightforward, even if it’s not the first thing that comes to mind. You get them to design, create, and launch a product of their own.
It was the same concept used by iGoDigital, an Indianapolis-based product recommendation company for e-commerce customers, during an event of their making called “Innovation Days.” Instead of taking their employees out for all sorts of leisure activities and other so-called team-building exercises, iGoDigital combined business with pleasure, achieving the same results as any company-wide leisure activity, all the while launching a brand new product, at the same time.
Eric Tobias, the founder of iGoDigital, said about the event that “We shut down the office for two days, turn off our phones and email and go off-site. This year we went to a co-working space called The Speakeasy. We took it over, and spent two days building a brand-new product from scratch.”
What they came up with is Scribblr, a piece of software that manages all email signatures across the entire organization. Here are some tips on how to create one such event of your own and use it for a significant effect.
Mix and Match your Employees
The Innovation Days event wouldn’t have had the success it did if the employees were stuck doing the same job they usually did. As a result, the people at iGoDigital switched roles during the event, so they had designers making sales calls while salespeople were designing the product; one team was in charge of the website, while another was in charge of the back-end functions, and so on. In other words, people were doing jobs they weren’t accustomed to, which, in turn, made them think outside the box more than ever before.
Making it Fun
The whole point of this exercise was to have a fun and bonding experience and not to have the staff work long hours to design the software on time. Not only was the event scheduled to take place during the NCAA’s “March Madness,” but the execs carefully planned Scribblr to be finished in just two days.
Give them a Taste of What It Means to Be an Entrepreneur
“My real goal was to ingrain the challenges that entrepreneurs face when starting a business across our entire company,” Tobias said. “One of those challenges is the constant push and pull of having ideas and all these opportunities–and having to make choices and tradeoffs on a day to day basis. I wanted them all to feel that pain a little bit.”
The whole experiment worked better than expected. Not only was everybody excited about the project but also wanted to continue working on it after the Innovation Days were over.
Giving your employees a sense of what it means to be an entrepreneur, how to come up with new ideas and how to think outside the box, has definite benefits for both the company and the employees themselves. “Everyone was there from the moment that it was just an idea,” Tobias said. “It’s like having 50 founders.”
Question to reflect: How many intrapreneurs do we have in our company? Are we letting them