Yes, I am blatantly borrowing and adapting the name of last year’s Oscar winning movie Everything Everywhere All at Once. I love the title (more than I loved the movie).
It succinctly and creatively sums up the new reality of our quantum world.
The old Newtonian world view of linear, mechanistic cause and effect that shaped thinking for centuries (not just in the field of science but in all aspects of how we think about the world and our place in it) has given way to a quantum model better suited to understanding and operating in complex systems – such as our current workplaces. The term VUCA is often used to describe such contexts. Volatile. Uncertain. Complex. Ambiguous.
Trying to control a complex system is futile. It is an ever-shifting landscape created by a multitude of variables. The best way to thrive in the turbulence is to embrace the non-linearity, flexibility and fluidity of a VUCA environment – which is what intrapreneurial leaders do. They approach problem-solving and decision-making with agility, adaptability, and a willingness to explore alternative and diverse perspectives and viewpoints. Traditional command-and-control style leaders who are comfortable with highly determined, predictable, rigid structures and processes will find this new way of operating – bewildering, threatening, overwhelming.
One sort of leader sees chaos, the other sees the emerging future being birthed.
Intrapreneurial organisations liberate the human potential across the organisation by inviting:
- EVERYONE to be an intrapreneur
- EVERYWHERE throughout the organisation no matter what role they are in
- ALL AT ONCE by seeing intrapreneurialism as an ever-present, continuous, everyday pursuit and not just a single event or process.
This means that:
- Innovation, intrapreneurialism and improvement is EVERYONE’S job – not the exclusive remit of the innovation team, the change manager, the ELT or the C-Suite.
- Finding ways to use emerging technology and AI to turbocharge productivity happens across the organisation, EVERYWHERE – not just in the R and D or IT department.
- Creative problem-solving happens constantly and continuously – not just in brainstorming sessions, hack-a-thons, incubators, accelerators and special training programs i.e., ALL AT ONCE.
These new conditions are giving rise to a new breed of leader and a new breed of organisation.
Intrapreneurial leaders recognize that the capacity for intrapreneurialism resides throughout the entire workforce, not just within select roles or departments. They invite everyone, regardless of their position, to embrace an entrepreneurial mindset where creative problem-solving, innovation and continuous improvement are seen as a collective responsibility.
In intrapreneurial organisations everyone is encouraged to be an intrapreneur. This expanded role of the individual unlocks employee creative potential and liberates the vast reservoir of ideas and perspectives that can fuel organisational growth, agile adaptation and long-term resilience. Organisations with an intrapreneurial culture thrive in the face of uncertainty and constant change.
In their groundbreaking 2020 book Humanocracy: Creating organisations as amazing as the people inside them, authors Hamel and Zanini say “An organisation has little to fear from the future or its competitors, when it is brimming with self-managing MICROPRENEURS.” Micropreneurs are individual intrapreneurs who see themselves as catalysts for positive change by channeling their entrepreneurial thinking into their everyday roles.
Everyone, Everywhere, All at Once is in fact a high-level framework for how to lead and structure organisations in our quantum world. It answers the questions of WHO WHERE and WHEN. It calls for an intrapreneurial mindset which embraces fluidity and flexibility while at the same time challenging us to be fearless about liberating the underutilised talent languishing within our organisations. Workplaces that do this will go on a rejuvenating journey of discovery, creativity and growth.
Here are some ways of exploring intrapreneurialism depending on how deep a dive you would like to take.