Innovation is a tool in entrepreneurship which allows entrepreneurs to exploit change as an opportunity for business. It characterizes a new way of doing things. Intrapreneurship refers to a strategy of developing organizations’ human resources to eliminate the possibility of their skills (innovative and creative) from being dormant. In this case, employees are at will to undertake innovative activities using company resources to assist in re-invention and improving performance in the organization. Creativity and innovation makes entrepreneurs tick. This paper seeks to discuss aspects relating innovation and creativity as applied within an organization setting. It establishes the relation between these two aspects and intrapreneurship.
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Distinction between creativity and innovation
In entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation go hand in hand. Ideally both aspects involve creation of something new. They are central to the entrepreneurial process. Creativity and innovation are vital skills for any successful entrepreneur. Creativity can be defined as the production of novel and unique ideas. Innovation refers to transformation of an existing idea into something better through modification and improvement. Creativity is simply the creation of something new. For example, creation of a new product or service that is not in the market. Creativity occurs in the event of identification of a need that is untapped and unexploited hence the need to fill in that gap and create equilibrium in the market (Heye,2006).
Innovation is improvement; hence an entrepreneur can improve the features of a product through branding and adding new functionalities. Innovation gives an entity the ability to survive in innovative markets by staying ahead of its competitors. This clearly indicates that innovation and creativity are inseparable and are useful for startup entrepreneurs and equally entrepreneurs who are already doing business. Creativity is a function of three vital areas: expertise, motivation and creative thinking. It requires an individual to have a vision to do something that will impact people, and in this case, customers in the market (Larsen & Lewis, 2007).
An ‘intrapreneur’ is an employee who practices entrepreneurship skills in an already established firm. Intrapreneurs are known for their agility and ability to take the organization to the next level through product evolution, organizational changes and innovation. The term is derived from a combination of ‘intra’ (which is borrowed from internal) and ‘entrepreneurship’. Intrapreneurs enhance their entrepreneurship skills and benefit from creating connections and networking with other successful entrepreneurs. They are also mentored by members of management within the organization. Furthermore, they do not invest in resources and technology as they have the firms’ resources and infrastructure at their disposal. Intrapreneurs equally learn from their mistakes.
Challenges in managing innovation, Intrapreneurship, and creativity
Firms undergo several challenges in managing creativity, innovation and Intrapreneurship. Firms where employees lack motivation and drive to improve the organization do not contribute to these processes; hence they act as a drawback. In the event that the firm’s management is unsupportive, managing these processes may be a challenge. The management may fail to assign relevant resources to support the same thereby negatively impacting the project. An organizational culture that is rebellious equally poses as a challenge. This is because employees are not receptive to change and new imaginative ideas. They are not willing to think outside the box and take the company to the next level. Another challenge occurs in the event that the firm lacks the relevant technological infrastructure and financial resources to support the above processes. Technology and infrastructure are vital to support new developments in the market.
The firm requires eliminating any possibility of exploitation of intrapreneurs. The firm should consider recognition schemes to reward intrapreneurs of their creative and innovative ideas which keep the company current. Putting in place reward structures to encourage ‘intraprenerial’ innovation should be enacted by firms. Intrapreneurs learn from their mistakes. Therefore, management should not scold and crucify them as this will discourage their innovative and creative abilities. The firm should also exercise respect and objectivity in dealing with intrapreneurs.
Early and growth phase of an organizations’ lifecycle
In the early stages of business start up, creativity is most applicable. This is due to the fact that innovation depends on creativity. There has to be an existing idea. Creativity requires an entrepreneur to move from the known to the unknown. Bringing in something new in the market, that has not been offered by anyone else in the market, allows the entrepreneur to have competitive advantage. It is the most successful for startups due to the fact that it enables an entrepreneur to see things that no one else has accomplished by establishing new connections for the purpose of meeting needs that have not been fulfilled. It simply offers a solution to a problem hence the entrepreneur can maintain this position in the market due to the possibility that it is untapped. This increases chances of success at start up.
The growth phase requires the organization to remain relevant and stay ahead of its competitors. In this case, the firm has already introduced its product offerings in the market and due to changes in tastes and preferences or emerging needs; the firm has no choice but to innovate. Intrapreneurship is equally vital in the growth phase as intrapreneurs are responsible for a wide array of innovations that rejuvenate the company. To maintain an upward growth in market share, existing ideas must be improved continuously for the purpose of maintaining existing customers and acquisition of prospective customers.
In conclusion, it is evident that processes relating to innovation, creativity and intrapreneurship are inevitable for the survival of business entities. Creativity and innovation form the basis of Intrapreneurship. Companies must invest monetary and non- monetary resources to ensure cultivate of positive Intrapreneurship within their firms. Creativity, innovation and intrapreneurship may be referred to as the winning formula for any organization. They enable an organization to compete effectively based on quality perspectives and not simply prices. It allows the organization to compete on its area of strength.
Heye, D. (2006). Creativity and innovation: Two key characteristics of the 21st century information professional. Business Information Review, 23(4), 252 – 257.
Larsen, P., & Lewis, A. (2007). How award-winning SMEs manage the barriers to innovation. Creativity and Innovation Management, 16(2), 142 – 151.