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GREAT IDEAS: Disrupt-it-Yourself by Simone Bhan Ahuja {interview}

Encourage “intrapraneurs” to unlock disruptive solutions for your company

Change is unavoidable.  And, it can be fatal to business. 

So, to avoid your company having “a Kodak moment” you need to disrupt it yourself. 

Simone Bhan Ahuja, author of Disrupt-It-Yourself, says companies must unleash more of their own talent and energy – by encouraging “intrapraneurs.” 

Intrapraneurs behave a lot like entrepreneurs, but they work on innovative and disruptive projects within a company. 
How to recognise an intrapreneur. They are: 
  • Action obsessed. Forward thinking and optimistic.
  • Progress focussed. Not fans of process for the sake of process.
  • Problem oriented. The most creative fall in love with the problem not the solution.
  • Natural hackers. Bending an organisation’s strength to their will.
  • Talent attractors. They don’t try to go it alone.
  • Married to mission. Married to a purpose but not necessarily to the way to do it.
  • Frugal by nature.

4 ways to encourage intrapreneurs in your company: 
  • STRUCTURE: Keep it fluid to respond to ad hoc needs. That way you can quickly pull together a team that makes sense in any given situation.  
  • PEOPLE: Don't keep innovation for the elite. Harness that creativity and knowledge of your people at all ranks. Help them discover and channel their passion. 
  • CULTURE: Shift your culture to celebrate experimentation. Encourage pet projects on shoestring budgets. Limiting money can lift ingenuity.
  • LEADERSHIP: Bend your own rules to allow people to take their ideas further. Develop leaders who engage and retain people who want to solve future problems. Let customers lead too, with their feedback and ideas.  

What prevents intrapreneurs from innovating more? 
  • Lack of slack 
  • The Metrics Question (Salim Ismail, author of Exponential Organisations, has said companies who want to be more disruptive should get off the public market and take it private)
  • The Alignment Conundrum (lack of clear innovation strategy – ie. too focused on core business)
  • The bureaucracy barrier – "how we do things" is fixed

Intrapreneurs are messy and scrappy. They're not strangled by the destructive traits of perfectionism
But they only thrive if a leader gives them air, lets them play, and champions their efforts. 

8 ways to hack a better business before the competition does: 

1.         Frugality
2.         Make it permissionless (overrule the rules)
3.         Let customers lead
4.         Make it fluid (agility)
5.         Maximise return on intelligence (focus on learning from experimentation)
6.         Create the commons (not an activity for the elite)
7.         Engage passion and purpose – at the heart of the greatest success stories
8.          Add discipline to disruption

(our 8 getting-to-know-you questions we ask all our authors): 
What’s a book you’d recommend?  Loonshots by Safi Bahcall about group behaviours. Fascinating read.  

How did you get your first job? I was 8 year old, stuffing envelopes for a neighbour. I had a piggy bank I wanted to fill. The other kids were 12, but I pestered him. 

If you weren't doing the job that you're doing now, what would you like to be doing? I'm kind of doing it. I used to be a dentist, years ago, so this is my dream job. I'd like to be an elephant trainer too. 

How do you push yourself when the going gets tough? A little bit of "work through it", a little bit of "suck it up." 

What’s one of the best decisions you’ve ever made to improve your career? Maybe having children, after the career switch, because it's made me so focused. What's crystal clear and relevant. 

What’s a fun fact that’s not widely known about you? I'm a student and teacher of improvised comedy. 

What’s been your lowest moment and how did you recover? Trying to have children and not being able to do it. An adjusted mindset, and taking a different perspective made it easier to get going. And, we were able to have children after all. 

What’s one prediction you can make for the year 2025? Knowledge is no longer king, and that flexibility, whether it's in your mind, or in your business model or elsewhere, is the way forward. 

To buy Simone Bhan Ahuja's Disrupt-it-Yourself from Booktopia, click here. The Growth Faculty Members can watch, listen or read a full interview with our featured author Simone Bhan Ahuja by downloading the video, transcript or MP3 audio file, after logging on to the On Demand platform.  

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