Going Back to the Garage: the rise of the Fintech intrapreneur

by Janet Sernack

Going Back to the Garage: the rise of the Fintech intrapreneur - Innovation ExcellenceI recently attended a Fintech Meetup event involving 400 people present to hear the CEO of one of Australia’s four biggest banks speak about his innovation strategy. Unsurprisingly, it was to embrace innovation through technology and to create a people first culture. Interestingly, the people involved in organizing, hosting and even attending the event, seemed to be mostly ex-bankers, and were now highly motivated and enthusiastic start-up Fintech entrepreneurs.

The CEO stated “all the innovations in Fintech over the past 10 years could have been done by a bank and we still supply the plumbing.”

Having worked extensively in the domain of leadership in the financial services industries over the past 20 years, it made me ask…

Where have all the most exciting high potential and courageous leaders gone?

Gone to start-up garages everywhere!

It seems that the financial services industry, especially here in Australia, are grappling with 2 key generative 21st century problems that are about knowing how to;
– Juggle being disruptive with innovative technologies, products, and services within an inherently risk adverse, compliant and conventional enterprise culture,
– Differentiate and add value by providing a great customer experience and sustain customers trust whilst simultaneously delivering increased shareholder value.

It looks like these problems have catalyzed them into either a reactive response, such as seeking innovative new technologies and products via mergers and the acquisition of Fintech start-ups, which have largely failed to deliver on their promises. Or have become frozen into complete inaction and confusion around the complex task of re-inventing their largely centuries-old business models.

Innovative crypto technologies incorporating blockchain and crypto currencies such as bitcoin are expected to disrupt banking at two levels, as predicted in a May report called Cryptotechnologies, a Major IT Innovation and Catalyst for Change as by the Euro Banking Association;

“The first wave [of innovation] will concentrate on deeper automation of existing processes. The second will arise from new innovations based on the application of the exclusive features of cryptotechnologies.”

“In other words, distributed ledger technology is likely to disrupt financial services first by making existing processes more efficient, secure, transparent and inexpensive, and then later by creating new products that we can’t even dream of”.

So how can we respond proactively to such potential disruptions?

Steve Jobs made use of the word “intrapreneurship” in a Newsweek magazine article in 1985 stating that “The Macintosh team was what is commonly identified as intrapreneurship – only a number of many years before the term was coined – a group of people going in essence back to the garage, but in a big business”.

Similarly, after the Macintosh computer was launched in 1984, Steve Jobs described its development as an “intrapreneurial venture” within Apple – since the machine would compete with the Apple II, previously the company’s core product.

Going back to the garage – levering enterprise innovation

Perhaps the financial services and other key industry sectors in a similar challenging situation could take advantage of the intrapreneurship concept by focusing on the development of a “back to the garage” enterprise culture which has already being taken up by the early adopter enterprises. These organizations are applying intrapreneurship as a strategic and systemic lever to engage, enroll and empower people to effect the deep changes and business transformations required for 21st-century growth, competitiveness and success.

What is intrepreneurship?

Coined by Gifford Pinchot III in the late 1970s, he described intrapreneurs as “dreamers who do. Those who take hands-on responsibility for creating innovation of any kind, within a business.”

Intrapreneurship is the act of behaving like an entrepreneur in order to evolve ideas into new ventures that have an impact for the organization.

Today the term intrapreneurship encompasses two main concepts: first, “corporate venturing”, which usually describes the search for spin-off opportunities; and second, the fostering of an entrepreneurial culture in large organizations.

Who is an intrapreneur?

An intrapreneur is an employee of an established (often large organization) with an entrepreneurial spirit and innovation skill set who works within the company to discover, design and deliver innovative products and services.
Someone who is courageous, compassionate, connected and creative, who dares to be boldly different, think and act differently within an organization, to make the difference they want to make in the world in ways that people value and cherish.

A Safe Space to Create

There have always been ambitious and courageous go-getters in companies who try to rock the boat and disrupt the status quo with new and creative ideas. In the past, from my own experience, the majority of enterprise cultures I have been involved with, have either driven them out as “misfits” or they have self-selected out of the organization as a “misfits.”

The recent Deloitte 2014 Millennial Survey states:
“Organizations must foster innovative thinking. Millennials want to work for organizations that support innovation. In fact, 78 percent of Millennials are influenced by how innovative a company is when deciding if they want to work there, but most say their current employer does not greatly encourage them to think creatively. They believe the biggest barriers to innovation are management attitude (63 percent), operational structures and procedures (61 percent), and employee skills, attitudes, and (lack of) diversity (39 percent)”.

This isn’t employees just trying to do better at their existing jobs or move up the ladder; this is them wanting to create something new, by integrating innovation with lean start-up methodologies, something that doesn’t currently exist. In other words, they want to create their own unique way of working and hang out “in the corporate garage!”

Key first 3 Steps to developing an intraprenurial enterprise culture

From our own learning experiences (and failures) at ImagineNation™ in engaging and enabling clients to develop intraprenurial enterprise cultures, we have identified 3 key steps, as the “non-negotiables” that will help facilitate ultimate success;
1. Determine enterprise readiness
2. Build top team alignment and engagement
3. Create a safe and creative learning environment.

Finally, when people have the ‘chance to’ and are inspired to ‘want to’ explore distant horizons and stretch their boundaries, they can then be taught ‘how to’ do it.

Which is about developing the passionate purpose, intrapreneurial traits, the growth and innovation mindsets and behaviors, and the generative skills and daily practices of successful life “in the garage” intrapreneurial leaders.

image credit: techcrunch.com
Follow @IXCHAT on Twitter

Wait! Before you go…

Choose how you want the latest innovation content delivered to you:

Janet Sernack janet-sernackgained her consulting, education, facilitation, training and executive coaching skills, from 30 years experience in manufacturing, retailing and learning and development businesses to Australia’s and Israel’s’ top 100 companies. She resides in Israel where she founded a start-up, ImagineNation™ that teaches innovative leadership and start-up entrepreneurship via The Start-Up Game™.

Leave a Reply