The GCC’s FM sector must enable its intrapreneurs

Intrapreneurial leaders have the potential to revolutionise facilities management in the Gulf, but only if companies create environments in which they can thrive

Mark Graham is commercial director for Macro International.
Mark Graham is commercial director for Macro International.

Within the field of facilities management (FM), companies are often asked about innovation. Specifically, how creative are their products and services, and what is the latest ground-breaking trend within the market?

In my opinion, innovation starts with an organisation’s leadership, and cascades down to promote an intrapreneurial mindset. Managers who think like entrepreneurs – even though they operate within large firms – are often more flexible in their approaches, have the ability to think outside the box, and tend to be solutions-oriented.

Generally speaking, intrapreneurial managers are proactive, motivated self-starters, who are comfortable taking the initiative – even within the boundaries of an established business environment – in search of service innovation. This is what we call the pursuit of a better way.

Company leaders who are intrapreneurial also tend to take more risks, perhaps by entering uncharted markets or by launching new products. They consistently brainstorm ideas, and are more prone to accepting – and even welcoming – change. Such individuals allow for constant evolution within organisations; they make it easier for companies to meet new market demands and to accommodate the needs of the younger generations of employees joining their workforces.

With open-minded leaders, an intrapreneurial approach to FM helps to create a flatter hierarchy. It also serves to encourage staff members to contribute ideas, safe in the knowledge that their opinions matter. Put simply, intrapreneurship results in fewer open doors and more dialogue.

But how does an intrapreneurial mindset add value? Value can be measured in terms of money, or how useful a firm is to a client. What are its services worth? It can also be measured in terms of efficiencies, improved productivity, or fresh opportunities that the intrapreneur identifies – and consequently seizes – for the benefit of both the company and the client.

For example, the adoption of a new technology may have the potential to improve service levels, but it could also be viewed as a risky investment. Will it reap benefits, or is another technology likely to render it obsolete in the near future? While competent intrapreneurs will still conduct risk-and-reward analyses, they are more likely to act than get bogged down in protocol. As long as these decisions do not take place at the expense of the client, rewards can far outweigh the risks because a novel technology can bring a company to the forefront of its sector. It can differentiate an FM outfit from its competitors.

With this in mind, intrapreneurial leaders encourage their teams not only to add value, but also to create value. But how is this achieved?

Hopefully, your employees are already able to add value to a project or client; something that complements existing services, for example.

Value creation, meanwhile, requires FM professionals to look for something outside of the box, which doesn’t already exist. It involves the identification of a product or service that your client wants, even before your client realises they want it. From here, the process entails the crafting of a bespoke solution to meet that requirement. In short, value creation necessitates the formulation of something unique and original for the client; something that differs from the industry norm.

By creating rather than simply adding value, I believe we are pushing the boundaries – and perhaps the very definition – of FM. New ideas and delivery models will come into play, which will change the FM landscape and create truly innovative solutions.

Intrapreneurs are needed for this to happen. They are valuable to a company because of their creativity. It’s therefore important to foster an environment in which intrapreneurs can thrive.

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