Entrepreneurs are resilient, creative and not afraid to break some rules.
But what about intrapreneurs – the employees within large organisations with ideas for sustainable and transformative change? Given that 90% of startups fail, whereas the success rate of intrapreneurship can reach up to 80% (think Gmail, AdWords, PlayStation, Post-It Notes, and the list goes on!), should intrapreneurs be any less proactive in pursuing creative solutions? Especially when it combines sustainability with profit for their organisation?
Not according to Gib Bulloch.
No stranger to innovation and re-imagining existing constructs, Bulloch is an award winning social intrapreneur who consults, writes and speaks on a range of topics relating to the role of business in society. A firm believer that the power of business can change the world, his career kicked off with BP, Mars, and eventually saw Bulloch founding and scaling Accenture’s global "not-for-loss" consulting business, Accenture Development Partnerships.
With the Hoffman Global Institute for Business and Society (HGIBS) striving to deepen INSEAD’s efforts of aligning business education with social impact, HGIBS invited Bulloch to share about his intrapreneurial journey for Professor Jasjit Singh’s popular elective titled, “Strategy and Impact.” During his visit, Goulnara Aguiar, a Global Executive MBA student at INSEAD, also interviewed Bulloch to discuss the importance of intrapreneurship in the business world.
Referring to the need for businesses to change and integrate sustainability into their model, Bulloch stressed for organisations and societies to, “see a new role for business and reimagine business not for what it is, but for what it could be.” In line with this potential, organisations are increasingly integrating sustainable functioning into their business, not only because it is good for society, but also because it makes business sense.
One of the biggest challenges faced by organisations today is the retention of staff. With society becoming increasingly conscious about making sustainable choices in their personal lives, wanting to align themselves with organisations that practice sustainability should not come as a surprise. During Bulloch’s time with Accenture, he successfully pioneered a corporate social enterprise, which not only weaved sustainability into the Accenture fabric, but also increased the retention of employees. Bulloch designed an ecosystem where employees could offer their professional services to aid agencies and NGOs anywhere from three to six months.
According to Bulloch, the project has resulted in significant intangible benefits for Accenture – especially on the dimension of attracting and retaining talent. According to analysis of HR data, those who participated in the initiative were 32% less likely to leave the organisation. One of the commonly stated reason was that employees felt they had played an active role in utilising their skills to create a positive, social impact.
In addition, in order to participate in the initiative, employees were required to accept a salary reduction. While this naturally raised a few eyebrows and changed the decision to participate among a few of the employees, a survey revealed that 87% of the employees were actually willing to accept a 20% or more reduction in their salary. This reinforces the belief that there is often not just a need for organisations to be more sustainable but also a business case - for reasons related to external or internal stakeholders.
Intrapreneurs can function as a catalyst for change within their organisation. According to Bulloch, finding solutions that are both sustainable and profitable should be everyone’s responsibility. “We need to bear these things within the business, and make it everyone’s job. So that everyone becomes a change agent in your day job, and have an idea or a business benefit that can be combined with a social or environmental impact,” he affirms.
In his first book: “The Intrapreneur: Confessions of a Corporate Insurgent,” Bulloch speaks to social intrapreneurs spread across diverse industries. “By intrapreneurs, I’m talking about the misfits, the rebels and the oddballs who are hanging on to some crazy idea for a new product or service that has potential commercial and social value, but feel disempowered, disengaged or downright ignored by their business leadership. These aspiring intrapreneurs are dormant change makers, lurking deep within all roles and functions of large corporations.”
He explains that, “we actually must do good through the core business that we are doing. And in too many peoples’ minds, there is a trade-off between these things. I don’t see that trade off. We are already starting to see that there is a lot of untapped value in the business.”
By empowering intrapreneurs to take the next step, Bulloch hopes to change mindsets and motivate businesses to recognise and act on the critical need for conducting business in a sustainable manner, in every industry.
Gib Bulloch believes passionately in the power of business to change the world and in the power of the individual to change the world of business. His 'epiphany' came from a year as a business volunteer with VSO in the Balkans in 2000, with the next 15 years spent founding and scaling Accenture’s global "not-for-loss" consulting business, Accenture Development Partnerships. This innovative venture attracted significant media attention, won Accenture international awards for Corporate Social Responsibility and Gib himself was voted the UK’s Management Consultant of the year in 2008. He left Accenture in 2016 to explore new ways of supporting purpose driven insurgencies within the corporate world and to write his first book: “The Intrapreneur: Confessions of a Corporate Insurgent.” Gib is a Visiting Fellow at Cranfield University and serves on the Board of The END Fund and The League of Intrapreneurs.