Are you ready to embrace intrapreneurship and revolutionize the way we work? asks Diana Brandl

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, organizations are recognizing the importance of fostering an entrepreneurial spirit within their ranks. While the term “entrepreneur” often conjures images of visionary founders launching startups, there’s another breed of innovators within established companies – the intrapreneurs. Intrapreneurs are individuals who exhibit entrepreneurial characteristics and drive while working within the confines of a larger organization. Surprisingly, some of the most talented intrapreneurs can be found in the ranks of executive support professionals, whose skills and mindset can be channeled to make transformative contributions to the organization. In this article, we will explore how Assistants can embrace their intrapreneurial spirit and bring about positive change in their workplace.

During my time in the C-Suite, I always lived intrapreneurship. I have created internal Assistant networks. I have also set up various suggestion schemes where employees could present their ideas. However, there are many other situations where innovative Assistants shape their intrapreneurial spirit.

Proactive Problem-Solving

Intrapreneurs are natural problem-solvers who seize opportunities and tackle challenges head-on. Management Assistants, often acting as the first point of contact for internal and external stakeholders, can identify pain points, streamline processes, and propose innovative solutions to improve efficiency. By embracing this proactive approach, Assistants can demonstrate their intrapreneurial capabilities and gain recognition for their contributions beyond traditional administrative tasks.

Embracing Innovation

In a world where innovation is the key to survival, organizations need employees who are not afraid to embrace change and explore new ideas. Assistants can position themselves as intrapreneurs by actively seeking opportunities to introduce innovative practices within their departments or across the organization. From suggesting the adoption of new software tools to implementing more sustainable practices, Assistants can contribute to the organization’s growth through their innovative initiatives.

Nurturing Collaboration

Successful intrapreneurs understand the power of collaboration and seek opportunities to work with diverse teams across the organization. Assistants can leverage their unique position as intermediaries to facilitate communication and collaboration among different departments, promoting a culture of cooperation and knowledge sharing. By nurturing these collaborations, Assistants can influence positive change and foster a more cohesive work environment.

Fostering a Learning and Growth Mindset

Intrapreneurs are lifelong learners who continuously seek knowledge and stay updated with industry trends. Assistants can adopt a learning mindset by actively seeking training opportunities, attending workshops, and pursuing certifications relevant to their roles. By expanding their skillset, Assistants can better contribute to their organization’s success and develop a reputation as valuable intrapreneurs.

Driving Efficiency and Cost Savings

Administrative Assistants have a unique vantage point to observe organizational processes and identify areas for improvement. By suggesting and implementing cost-saving measures and efficiency enhancements, Assistants can demonstrate their intrapreneurial acumen. These improvements not only benefit the organization’s bottom line but also showcase the Assistant’s ability to think strategically and drive positive change.

Championing New Projects

Intrapreneurs are characterized by their willingness to take ownership of new projects and drive them to success. Assistants can position themselves as intrapreneurs by volunteering for projects outside their immediate responsibilities. Whether it’s spearheading an employee engagement program, initiating a knowledge-sharing platform, or leading a cross-functional team, taking the initiative to lead projects can showcase the intrapreneurial potential of Assistants.

Case Study: Boehringer Ingelheim

In October 2020, Assistants at Boehringer Ingelheim founded BION (Boehringer Ingelheim Office Network) on their own initiative, formed the core team, created their mission, and selected five sponsors, including the Country Manager Germany, the HR Labor Director, the Chairman of the Group Works Council, and the respective site managers of the German cities Biberach and Dortmund. The staff convinced management of their idea in December 2020 and the go-live was in January 2021.

The BION community, with over 1,300 members, has achieved significant milestones, including the launch of BION Air and BION Growth and the organization of the Virtual Office Network Days (VONDs). In addition, departments use the network as a voice to establish new processes and to benefit from their expertise.

Their core team currently consists of 12 people from various locations in Germany and the tasks are divided into three pillars. They work virtually and meet two to three times a year in person. The pillars are: “Strengthen the network”, “Maintain interfaces”, and “Marketing BION”.

In 2022, the network wanted to grow together, be bold, and evolve. That’s why they launched BION Growth, an innovative journey with exciting topics such as Growth Mindset, Simply Do! – actively shaping change, Self-Coaching for greater job satisfaction and quality of life, and motivation. During four presentations by external speakers, the Assistants received a great deal of inspiration, input, and ideas for implementation, and their curiosity to learn new skills and develop personally was sparked.

BION Air is the live talk for office employees at Boehringer Ingelheim. The network invites people or functions that they are convinced the community needs to learn more about. The aim is to open doors into exciting and new areas and thus offer tips and facilitation for everyday work.

The principle is simple: 1x a month, 15 minutes, always the same 5 questions with different interesting interview partners.

Many concrete improvements have been made over the years because of BION’s work, including:

Fostering collaboration

The establishment of BION and the exchange between departments have created synergies that lead to more efficient collaboration.

Knowledge sharing

BION enables the sharing of expert knowledge and experience, which contributes to improved and faster problem-solving and decision-making.

Employee retention and satisfaction

BION contributes to employee satisfaction by offering opportunities for personal and professional development.

Innovation

By sharing ideas and experiences, new approaches and solutions are created, leading to innovation at the departmental and company level.

Efficient communication

BION helps to improve internal communication by using platforms such as VivaEngage, the knowledge base in SharePoint and the BION newsletter to inform about current developments and projects.

And the roadmap continues with speed. The team has already developed its 2028 strategy this year. Their vision is: BION is the best-known network at Boehringer Ingelheim and networking is natural for everyone, easy, and without barriers.

In the next few weeks, they will choose the topics that will be implemented in 2024 to achieve the 2028 strategy.

Final Thoughts

Intrapreneurial spirit is not limited to a select few within an organization. Administrative Assistants, with their versatile skills and intimate knowledge of internal operations, can seize the opportunity to become intrapreneurs and drive meaningful change. By being proactive problem-solvers, embracing innovation, championing new projects, nurturing collaboration, adopting a learning mindset, and driving efficiency and cost savings, Assistants can thrive as intrapreneurs, adding significant value to their organizations. By recognizing and empowering the intrapreneurial potential of their Assistants, organizations can unlock a wealth of untapped creativity and drive sustainable growth in today’s competitive business landscape.

Dear fellow executive support professionals, we are more than just support staff; we are drivers of change. Let’s unleash our potential as intrapreneurs and shape the future of our companies. Embrace the challenges, take risks, and be the catalyst for innovation. Together, we can create a workplace where creativity thrives and success knows no bounds. Let’s rise to the occasion and make a lasting impact that echoes through the corridors of our organization. Show how your intrapreneurial efforts will lead to positive outcomes, whether it’s increased efficiency, cost savings, or enhanced customer satisfaction.

Diana Brandl holds a degree in International Administration and Management. She is an international speaker, trainer, and consultant focussing on digital transformation, new work, personal branding, and leadership. Diana is the host of The Future ... (Read More)

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