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Google and Amcor Companies’ Intrapreneurial Practices Report

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Updated: Jul 30th, 2021

Introduction

The notion of intrapreneurship may sound like a buzzword, and yet more and more businesses are embracing intrapreneurial practices as a set of tools for effective corporate management. The issues intrapreneurship is assigned to tackle mainly arise from the ever-lasting struggle of the big businesses and innovation. As soon as an establishment goes global, its board becomes increasingly cautious when making risky decisions, however, calculated these risks might be; every step is thoroughly discussed, and no decisions are made unless a consensus is reached. Such companies are generally reluctant to innovate – which is understandable but not entirely productive in the long run. On numerous occasions, companies felt they have grown well past the point of collapsing unexpectedly, just before the market ousted them in favor of newer and riskier ones.

Today, the names of those that strived are recognized globally not least because they dared to adopt intrapreneurship practices at some point. Companies like 3M, Apple, and Intel are known to regard their intrapreneurship investments very seriously, especially in terms of employee training. Other giants, like Microsoft and Xerox, even establish their research and development departments to promote CE – Corporate Entrepreneurship or leading a global establishment like a small-scale start-up: boldly, creatively, and after all – successfully. The present work will focus on the intrapreneurial practices of Google and Amcor and conduct a thorough analysis of the said companies in terms of leadership, corporate culture and ethics, strengths, weaknesses, and, most importantly, approaches to innovation. The companies’ practices will be evaluated by the principles of intrapreneurship, the lessons learned and some recommendations for further consideration will be outlined about both.

Background

Amcor, Ltd.: Responsible Packaging

Amcor, the Australian-based establishment, is one of the world’s leading package manufacturers. The company supplies the industries of health care, food, and many others with multi-material packages. Its CEO, Ron Delia, has been with the company for more than a decade. The company emphasizes sustainability as its core value and works towards creating lighter, more ergonomic, and more sustainable packages. The company operates nearly 200 sites in 43 countries, with more than 29,700 employees worldwide. According to the 2015 report, the company’s 2015 sales totaled US$10 billion (Packaging innovation for a better tomorrow: Sustainability Review 2015).

To preserve its position as the global package leader, the company invests over $100 million annually in research (Driven by innovation 2015). Its strategy, however, is not confined to the research alone: it also relies on successful practices heading for the innovation that makes it excel.

Practice innovation

Amcor’s team of innovators participated in the Big Energy Project (BEP), an energy efficiency program at Botany Mill to refine the energy management practices (Amcor Big Energy Project – Saving Costs, Reducing Energy, Improving Operations n.d.). The consultants assessed the site, held a workshop, and developed a strategy with a view of reducing energy consumption at the boilers and steam plants and cutting costs by more than $200,000 within a half-year. The risks included the arguable reliability of equipment and operational inefficiency. However, the project resulted in an overall operational improvement by steam and boiler plant repairs, which brought $650,000 savings in 10 weeks, $240,000 of which were fully implemented.

Product innovation

In 2009, PepsiCo challenged Amcor to create a new design for an athletic drink bottle. In addition to being sustainable and increase the company’s competitiveness, it had to be light and ergonomic in design (Strong & Light 2016). The end product – Gatorade drink bottle – became the lightest 500-ml PET bottle in the world and was praised by the athletic community for being extra-grippy.

Process innovation

To optimize the computations modeling the most effective package production practices, Amcor implemented an HPC computer cluster by TotalCAE, which reduced the computation period from 3 days to 6 hours (TotalCAE Amcor Case Study n.d.).

Communication and outreach innovation

Amcor is recruiting talented students by selecting the best ideas of responsible packaging, which ensures the flow of valuable human resources and connection (Case study: Competition drives innovation 2016). Another means of enhancing communication is the innovative Amcor Connect platform, which unites workers globally and facilitates practice-sharing (Case study: Engaging, creating, collaborating, innovating 2016).

Google Inc.: Do the right thing

Google Inc., a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., is a global giant specializing in Web-services and related technology. Its leaders at varying times were its founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Marissa Mayer, Omid Kordestani, and Eric Schmidt; its current executive is Sundar Pichai. Google.com is deemed the world’s most visited website; the company possesses more than a million servers over the globe, and its search engine processes billions of queries daily. It is known for its rapid growth since inception, a wide array of productivity-, and entertainment-related products and services, and innovative practices in many aspects.

Radical innovation

Larry Page, Google’s co-founder, set up an ambitious idea to digitize all books ever written and thus create a global library of human wisdom. The project was codenamed Google Books and started as a single makeshift scanner where one had to hold and turn pages by hand and in rhythm. Today, Google Books features millions of books and expanding (Leong 2013).

Contributed innovation

Innovation in Google is coming from all directions. An MD working at a Google office argued for providing a suicide prevention hotline number in response to the “how to commit suicide” search query; the line’s call volume had a 9% increase in the immediate aftermath (Leong 2013). Google employees are given a fifth of their time to work on the projects that they enjoy: one of such “hobby” projects was Gmail, which has quickly grown into one of the most popular mailing services (George 2015).

Open innovation

Creating Android, the company was aware it could not afford the best developers and advertisers, so it allowed the outside developers and users to create applications and suggest marketing strategies. The result is more than 300 devices compatible with the Android OS and more than 500,000 app creators working outside Google (Wojcicki 2011).

Ambitious innovation

Projects semi-secretly pursued by X (formerly Google X) involve the technology of the future: flying cars, drone delivery, and the globe-encompassing Web connection. Behind such projects are people who do not believe in no-win scenarios, such as Sebastian Thrun, who is currently and quite successfully testing an autopilot car technology (Wojcicki 2011).

Analysis

Intrapreneurship made clear

The concept of an “intrapreneur” and “intrapreneurship” as a set of tools and features attributable to a person has been receiving much attention lately. The behavior and conduct of an intrapreneur are very similar to that of an entrepreneur, the only exception being that the former works with a large organization, not a local establishment. Defined as “dreamers who do”, they are best described as the innovators within a company (Desouza 2011). In its most recent sense, an intrapreneur is an employee working towards a specific problem that involves risk-taking; such an employee is not afraid to take risks and lead innovation (Jonkomane-Lutwama 2012). Intrapreneurs constantly update their knowledge of the recent trends and use their professional judgment to see prospective tendencies. About that ability, intrapreneurs are an extremely valuable asset to any large organization.

Some of the principles of intrapreneurship include:

  1. Risk-taking. Not avoiding risks to achieve the desired outcome: increased productivity, revenue, etc.;
  2. Innovation. Solving market-driven problems by seeking out new policies, strategies, and resources;
  3. Focus. Concentrating on specific problems and applying skills to a task at hand with special emphasis on the user;
  4. Decentralization of ideas. Everybody’s ideas matter, which is why all suggestions are considered;
  5. Trend-sensitiveness. Being able to single out current trends and forecast the perspectives;
  6. Development. The intrapreneurial perspective requires the freedom to make decisions, innovate, and grow (Haller 2014).

Risk-taking and innovation being the key elements here, intrapreneurial practices can be deemed an effective way to grow. Google is recognized globally as an intrapreneurial company, and some of Amcor’s practices fall in line with the said principles.

Evaluation

With the principles outlined, one can estimate how well the companies comply with the principles of intrapreneurship about leadership, organizational culture, challenges and solutions, approach to innovation, ethics, and social responsibility, and draw the recommendations therefrom.

Aspects of the company’s functioning Google Amcor
Leadership The founders are intrapreneurs. With Google Books, for instance, Page’s start was small and risky but the idea was huge. The successors demonstrated the same intrapreneurial traits and ambition. However, the current CEO Sundar Pichai is known in the media as the “boring” executive – predictable and focused on maintaining the status quo (Lebowitz 2016). Ken MacKenzie, Amcor’s CEO till 2015, has transformed the company into a global giant. Ron Delia is consistently promoting MacKenzie’s best strategies and stakeholder commitment. At the same time, his interviews indicate his readiness to focus on the new and emerging markets, go on with new and risky acquisitions, and grow further (Mitchell 2015).
Culture Employee- and user-centered. The engineers and managers are given 20% of their time to work on projects they enjoy. Users are asked for new ideas, which are later adopted (such as the Android ad campaign). Employee-centered and sustainability-focused. Amcor creates a network to connect its employees around the world and share practices. It is also committed to the sustainability demands of the market.
Problem resolution All ideas are welcomed (e.g., the one coming from a doctor), and users are encouraged to make suggestions (the Android campaign). Operational inefficiencies are resolved with better technology (TotalCAE). The BEP experience speaks of Amcor as a company reliant on best practices (because the consultant team reviewed the existing policies and selected the most optimal).
Risk-taking and risk management Google has a large number of teams working on their separate projects, and each failure will only cost as much to the company. Facing global risks such as economic crises, the company mitigates them by offering some services for free. The specialists collaborate and work in teams (e.g., the Big Energy Project and PepsiCo bottle design) to calculate risks and develop the best strategies. The company is implementing new strategies such as life cycle assessments and develops new materials (which is an example of trend-sensitivity).
Innovation Innovation in terms of products, technologies, and corporate policies. New materials and technology, operational efficiency management, and design.
Ethics and CSR Privacy issues are tackled by increased software security; IP security is ensured by the company’s policy. The culture of non-bias and diversity. Diverse and engaged workforce, safe workplace, and transparent labor practices are ensured. Ethics maintained on all levels of production and supply.

Lessons and Recommendations

Lessons learned

Although the two companies’ approaches differ, they do possess intrapreneurial characteristics, which is what can be learned from them.

  1. User-driven and user-oriented approach to the end product. Evidenced by Android from Google and the Gatorade bottle from Amcor, keeping the customer experience tailored to their needs is one of the key intrapreneurial practices.
  2. Employee-centered culture. Listed as one of the best places to work, Google is the global leader at this. Amcor, in turn, facilitates employee connection and transparency between its shareholders.
  3. Teamwork for risk management, calculation, and mitigation.
  4. Innovation in terms of product quality and design.

Recommendations

There are several alerting conditions faced by both companies that do not quite comply with the principles of intrapreneurship and deserve special attention.

  1. “Everybody’s ideas matter” is one of the fundamentals of employee-centered culture, while Google officially grants ‘20% time for hobby projects’ only to engineers and managers. Recommendation – extend this policy to cover all employees to facilitate innovation on all tiers.
  2. While Amcor may not be as bold at ideas implementation, it possesses a fair share of trend-sensitivity, while Google reacts to social and political issues (such as the Chinese shutdown and privacy concerns). Recommendation – upscale their data-driven approach and combine it with the “gut feels” that comes with the leadership experience.

Conclusion

To conclude, the input of intrapreneurs makes them an indispensable part of a company, distinguishing them from all other employees. At least until Pichai became CEO, Google was regarded as a model intrapreneurial company. Although it has outrun Amcor (and many others) in terms of innovation, it can still improve its trend-sensitivity and open up to ideas even further.

References

Amcor Big Energy Project – Saving Costs, Reducing Energy, Improving Operations n.d., Web.

Case study: Competition drives innovation 2016, Web.

Case study: Engaging, creating, collaborating, innovating 2016, Web.

Desouza, KC 2011, Intrapreneurship: Managing Ideas Within Your Organization, Toronto, University of Toronto Press.

Driven by innovation 2015, Web.

George, B 2015, , Web.

Haller, HE 2014, Intrapreneurship: Ignite Innovation for Escalating and Enduring Success: the Secret to Success! Coeur d’Alene, Silver Eagle Press.

Jonkomane-Lutwama, JMM 2012, Intrapreneurship, Saarbrucken, Lap Lambert Academic Publishing.

Lebowitz, S 2016,, Web.

Leong, KC 2013, , Web.

Mitchell, S 2015, , Web.

Packaging innovation for a better tomorrow: Sustainability Review 2015, Web.

Strong & Light 2016, Web.

n.d., Web.

Wojcicki, S 2011, , Web.

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