According to one business strategist, the Australian legal field should allow lawyers more autonomy to “think, experiment & play” if they wish to encourage innovation and improve employee energy levels at work.
Anthony Wright, Director of Today’s Trailblazer delivered the advice as part of his speech during the Australasian Legal Practice Management Summit (ALPMA) earlier this month. He described an ‘intrapreneur’ as someone who has entrepreneurial skills, but rather than going into business for themselves, they work inside someone else’s business.
Google Fosters an ‘Intrapreneurial’ Spirit in its Staff
Google is a giant success, worth over $364 billion!
The company likes to do things differently. Instead of making staff spend 100% of their time performing their routine duties, 20% of their time is allocated instead to working on personal projects which they are free to choose.
Google likes to give their staff more autonomy as they believe people generally do their best work when they are allowed to pursue their passions.
“One of the successes to come from Google's 20% time policy is Gmail. An employee came up with that and it is currently used by close to 900 million users around the world,” pointed out Mr Wright.
An ‘Intrapreneur’ Gave Us the Sony PlayStation
If it wasn’t for a Sony Corporation sound labs technician named Ken Kutaragi, we would not have the fabled Sony PlayStation in our midst. The PlayStation was born when Mr Kutaragi fiddled with the old Nintendo console, noticing the sound quality was poor when watching his daughter play a game, he concluded a digital chip would solve the problem.
“He came up with the Sony PlayStation. Interestingly, Sony bosses, when they found out this is what he'd been doing with his time, wanted to fire him. They were pretty damn unimpressed about the use of his time. Now, Sony is one of the biggest players in the gaming industry worldwide,” explained Mr Wright.
How Can Law Firms Foster an ‘Intrapreneurial’ Spirit in their Employees?
While law firms aren’t in the business of creating next-gen gaming consoles, they can still benefit from giving employees “dabble time” (as Mr Wright describes it) in which to collect their thoughts, allow time for thinking outside the box and to pursue other related interests which could lead to innovative ideas and solutions to legal matters.
“[You can achieve] amazing results from letting your employees think, experiment and play. It doesn't matter how you do it. What is important is that embrace the overall goal.”
Key to Successful ‘Intrepreneurial’ Implementation
- Accept diversity
- Foster collaboration
- Be inclusive & value employees’ input
- Give people ownership over their own decisions independent of chain of command
- Ensure transparency and candidness from the top-down so ‘intrepreneurs’ understand the ‘big picture’
- Risk taking and failure must be acceptable without fear of ridicule in order to find out what works and what doesn’t
- Create a learning culture
- Support the ‘ideas’ people
- Encourage networking, collaboration and cross-discipline projects
- Reward ‘intrapreneurs’ for their results