Family Business

Generating Ideas


3 min




Guillaume Herve


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So the concept of intrapreneurship is founded on a few key foundational pieces, obviously. One is the concept of generating good ideas. Then follows the selection of those ideas, and then of course, funding and creating businesses around those ideas, and scaling them, and making them live on their own. And so many companies are stuck, especially when they first engage in intrapreneurship with how to generate good ideas. And what is a good idea? For me, a good idea is very simple. It’s an idea that solves an unmet need, that a client is willing to pay for, and that the enterprise can make a profit with. After that, how material and how much of a financial contribution that particular business can have on the overall enterprise is key. So going back to generating ideas, the first thing that I tell people to do is to understand their core ... View More competencies. Your core competencies are essentially what you do best, what nobody else can replicate, or at least would have a hard time replicating. Most companies have one, two or three core competencies that really makes them who they are, makes them different than their competition. Understanding those core competencies and how they can be positioned in the marketplace is key, because it begins to open up opportunities for you to think about how those can be brought into a new market to solve a new customer’s need vs. your traditional market. And many companies have done very well with that, whether it’s OnStar with GM, whether it’s Virgin with the 400 or so brands of products that they have, whether it’s Fuji or Google, they’ve understood one thing – is that they are very good at a few things, and they know how to bring those things to the market place. Once that exercise is done, I suggest three other activities. First, talk to your employees. You’d be surprised how many employees over the years have come to me in my businesses and have said, you know I was talking to my brother, my family, my friends, and they thought that not only what we do is really, really cool, but it could also be positioned in a new market to solve a new problem. Employees given a little bit of time and a little bit resource can come up with great ideas. Third, talk to your customers. I’ve often had conversations with customers that knew me best, and knew my products and services best, they have offered ideas. I remember one case where we had just done a great visit with one of our key customers in one of our training centers, and they were amazed at the IT solution that we had developed ourselves to manage very complex operations worldwide. And they asked us, why don’t you package this and sell it as a separate IT solution to the market? People would buy it, and not just in your core business, in other businesses as well. We did that, and it worked. Finally, go and talk to your accelerators and the start-up incubators that are in your ecosystem, in your city, or that are relevant to your industry. If you’re really stuck, just spending one afternoon in one of these environments, hearing entrepreneurs pitch their ideas will not only create a lot of energy and excitement in your company, but will also give you a better sense of how existing technology or new technology can be used to solve old problems.