The creative economy and the rise of employee entrepreneurs

Given that strategic initiative and change is daily, if not minute by minute, a business needs to be highly creative, if it is to keep pace in this hyper competitive marketplace.

Creativity is at the heart of innovation and change, and to be creative your business needs to attract employee entrepreneurs. Creativity is not simply the domain of people who use creative expression as part of their job role, creativity is about being able to look laterally and see solutions others cannot see. A creative business knows how to be vulnerable, how to practice fast failure and transform trends into ideas, but most importantly a business is creative because of its ability to attract employee entrepreneurs.

Creative businesses need to be swift of foot, adapting to new opportunities, with the ability to attract in new competencies at a moment’s notice. In order to embrace creative, entrepreneurial people into an organization, businesses need to think differently about their talent.

Talent is a bigger driver of performance and profitability than ever before, so much so, human capital is an increasingly significant part of how a company is valued. An investment in employee entrepreneurs is critical to the mix of valuable human capital.

Employee entrepreneurs are those people who are, and are highly connected to, creative thinkers. They thrive on huge learning curves, embrace the new and delight in risk. They are also the people who may come and go from an organization, a much more transient and mobile work force than their colleagues.

Part of attracting in the employee entrepreneur is what  Deliotte’s  coined as the Open Talent marketplace. An Open Talent marketplace is one where workplace flexibility in time, location and schedule is attracting in otherwise unattainable talent. This aligns with the needs of the employee entrepreneur whose appetite for learning and creativity may mean they have more than one place of work, may choose to work at home at times, or may dip in or out of the workplace arrangements.

Once thought of as a loyalty issue, now leading businesses accept these traits of an employee entrepreneur as the contributing factors to their big ideas, amazing intuitions and ability to keep the pulse of change. If an organization does not want its talent base to rust, it needs the oxygen of entrepreneurs to remain strong and dynamic.

Increasingly we are entering the age, where a business and employees, form an alliance that extends and last well beyond a contract. Smart businesses are looking to develop enduring relationships with talent that is based on more than a financial exchange and on a bigger picture of reciprocity, such as workplace flexibility. Even smarter businesses are investing in employee alumni programs, where reemployment rates, the sharing of knowledge and business opportunity with ex employees drive massive gains. McKinsey’s 130 ex employees, who are now CEO’s of one billion plus companies, are a case in point.

The smartest of all, are those oragnisations who embrace the fluidity of the entrepreneurial employee, recognising it is their very transience that leads to an amazing network and diversity of experience that is the rocket fuel of creativity.

Smart businesses stay in dialogue with employees when they leave, even when they leave for the competition. Silicon Valley based businesses encourage ex employees who leave for the competition to look for co opetition and shared services opportunities. External engagement strategies recognize the external talent, connected to internal talent, lifts the collective IP of an organization. Research has shown connected people, trading on the wisdom of crowds, are smarter than their isolated peers.

Entrepreneurs are no longer the domains of start ups, but we need to welcome them into the heart of our business.

Louise Kelly

Founder Thought Leaders Circle

Managing Director

Hearts and Minds

2 thoughts on “The creative economy and the rise of employee entrepreneurs

  1. We are also told that 50% of all the jobs we will have in the next six years have not yet been created. And we are also being told that we are rapidly approaching the time when only 50% of the American work force will be “employees.” The rest will be consultants, independent contractors, contingency workers, temps, entrepreneurs,
    free-lance workers, electronic immigrants, etc. These changes require that each of us develop a clear sense of who we are and where we are going. Otherwise we will feel victimized by the inevitable changes.

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