“However much you rub it you can’t make a diamond from an ordinary stone. But if you have a diamond in the rough, you can draw out its gleam with careful polishing. And depending on how you polish it and cut it, you can make it sparkle and shine in various different ways.“People are just like uncut diamonds; they each have the potential for various kinds of brilliance, qualities which, if polished right, will shine radiantly. It is very important for personnel managers to have a proper grasp of this concept, and to attempt to draw out the special strengths of each employee.” These are the immortal words of entrepreneur Konosuke Matsushita, the Japanese industrialist who founded global electronics giant Panasonic. His company survived a number of recessions but success was not achieved simply as a result of slashing costs, principally through mass redundancies. Instead, believing strongly that he had a duty to contribute to the development of society and the improvement of people’s lives, Matsushita charged all employees to find innovative ways to survive, developing products that people needed, producing them to a high standard and at a cost people could afford. In many businesses today, there are numerous examples of rough diamonds. For management, however, the challenge is identifying these unpolished stones, knowing how to turn them into exceptional brilliance, then holding onto them. Furthermore, as organisations move into the digital era, another challenge will be to attract and retain new entrepreneurial talent. In the past, the concept of entrepreneurship was, at best, restricted to the creation of a new P&L centre or to the creation of new independent ventures. Fortunately, that is changing. A growing number of business leaders are beginning to recognise the importance of developing a corporate entrepreneurial, or intrapreneurial, spirit not only as a means of survival but also achieving competitive advantage. Moreover, according to a recent survey of millennials (those in their twenties and early thirties) undertaken by professional services firm Deloitte, 78 per cent of the 8,000 people interviewed are influenced by how innovative a company is when deciding if they want to work for that organisation. Additionally, most claimed that their current employer does not actively encourage creativity. Empower your workforce to innovate Corporations have only one avenue of choice if they want to create explosive growth: they need to empower their workforce to innovate. Creating an environment of disruption might sound counter-productive, even chaotic. Yet management needs to champion a vibrant and innovative environment where internal start-ups can fuel growth by monetising new ideas, and this needs to become a key growth strategy. The millennial generation of employees is primed to make a change and they want to join organisations that let them do just that. They are not old-fashioned “organisation climbers” so it is down to senior executives to nurture and harness this vitality. In the fast-paced world of global competition, maintaining the status-quo almost guarantees decline and possibly extinction. It’s not an option! There is tremendous potential by combining the dynamism of a start-up with the resources and talent that already exist within the organisation. The result? Explosive growth! Entrepreneur Michail Sotirakos is a member of the Watershed Entrepreneurs team.
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