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Guidance: Building an Entrepreneurial Work Culture

…… Originally published in The Organization in the Digital Age 2016-2017 ……

Potential Obstacles

  • Command-and-control leadership style.
  • Hesitation to rethink how people work.
  • Fear of losing control by management and central functions.
  • Centralized decision-making.
  • Excessive fear of taking risks.

Actions That Help Overcome These Obstacles

Building an entrepreneurial work culture starts with enabling people and teams, then expanding to a cross-organizational dimension.

Capabilities: Deployment

  • Deploy digital capabilities for people to share information, ideas and know-how directly. For example through blogs, wikis and the capability to comment on other people’s content.
  • At the same time, or shortly after, deploy collaborative technologies such as an enterprise social network and the capability to create communities. These should be available across the whole organization.

Practices: Openness

  • Establish a policy that communities will be open by default, and closed only if absolutely necessary for security reasons.
  • Start and spread working out loud practices, by developing internal examples or bringing in an external consultant to build awareness and share techniques.

Leadership: Autonomy

  • Introduce methods that let individuals and teams self-manage their own work. Ensure freedom in a context of accountability.
  • Implement distributed decision-making, again in a context of accountability.

Culture: External awareness and interactions

At both the senior manager level and operational level, develop ways to increase awareness and contacts with the external world.

  • Depending on the sector of activity, consider working directly with start-ups, invite thought-leaders to challenge management practices, bring in peers in other organizations who can share their challenges, approaches and successes with you.

Photo credit: Russell Collins,