Creating an entrepreneurial culture can be challenging for any organisation. Add the variable of working within a virtual environment, where nobody (or only a few) work from the same location, it can add another level of challenge. This was a conversation I had with a client recently, planning their next trip over to Singapore to visit their team for some team building activity, with the purpose of instilling an entrepreneurial spirit. I noted that it wasn’t an easy feat however, it can be done. I also advised that being able to continue that momentum when he travels back to Australia is just as important to ensure being entrepreneurial was reinforced in future conversations and actions.
As obvious as it may seem, being your true and congruent self, is imperative to being entrepreneurial and creating an entrepreneurial environment. By being authentic, we are tapping into our natural qualities that forge the direction of our business and purpose we are wanting to serve. Being a leader that role models this is absolutely critical.
In a virtual environment, communicating this authenticity digitally makes it difficult to sometimes get this across. So it is important to use platforms that allow for face to face interaction as regularly as possible. Don’t rely on just text communication! Ask them how they are and not just because you want to understand how productive they are going to be for the business. Ask them what they are interested in, what’s important to them and find out the stuff that drives them. This shows you care about them as people. Share your own fears and dreams and find some aligned values that connect you to each other’s big picture.
Collaboration and Creativity
Creativity is more encouraged, the more the diverse the individuals are. Collaborative problem solving situations, among people who have different expertise and points of view lead to the best creative environments.
A lot of entrepreneurial models are built around bringing different expertise together to work on a project. It assists widening the scope and introducing completely different innovations to production processes or workflows. What is critical in these scenarios is ensuring there is an effective way to filter through those new concepts and implementing them.
Best examples of this type of innovation for me personally have been during brainstorming sessions where individuals are actively challenging each other’s point of view. Plan to bring these individuals together regularly. Learn how to create an environment that still respects diverse views and where constructive conflict is encouraged.
Forward with Failure
Being able to make mistakes, learn from them and still progress through the journey is an element of all entrepreneurial stories. Many successful entrepreneurs have openly admitted their challenges and very costly mistakes as an important part of how they manage, lead or live their lives today. Create an environment where teams and individuals can safely try new things and know that if it results in failure, that there will not be dire consequences.
Inviting people to group sessions where cross functional teams can be created is one of the easiest and effective ways of doing this with a virtual team. Sometimes the best ideas come from a best practice idea from one area that has never been applied to another. It also encourages partnering with people who have different strengths, something that can only improve how people feel about diversity in the workplace.
Decision making from the ground up
In an attempt to shake things around, Google’s top management changed the company structure so that it felt more like a start-up. They did this by organizing their structure by product so each team worked with product delivery in mind. What resulted were employees who took full responsibility for the outcomes of their area. People were happy and satisfied when they were given the autonomy to make decisions. Having small teams working on things gave group ownership as well, which also added an extra benefit to team building. This is easy to do with smaller organizational numbers but becomes more of a challenge the bigger a business becomes.
Again, when getting the virtual team together, do so by providing vision, context and minimal regulation that is output related, not time related. Leaders then need to be less directive and more like facilitators and environment controllers.
In an economy where big data, agile thinking and managing through complexity are fundamental skills now, this is a valuable activity for developing talent, creating camaraderie and allowing for increased accountability to happen from the ground up.
To create an effective entrepreneurial culture can be rewarding. Having an entrepreneurial spirit is considered a business norm now. And this is only growing across the world because we have more appetite for it, especially in a digital economy. It is also groundbreaking to see new innovations disrupt their respective industries and lead the way in creating new business models, trends and ways of working. However, you can be very deliberate in creating the culture or mindset. These are all elements that are fundamental for any business that wants to remain innovative and on the forefront of change in their industries.
If you have a virtual or online business right now, how are you empowering your people to step up and progress forward? For more like this, be sure to visit us on Facebook and visit us regularly for more hints and tips.