An In­no­va­tive Ap­proach to Cor­po­rate En­trepreneur­ship

National Post (Latest Edition) - - PERSPECTIV­E - San­dra Mac­Gre­gor

The per­cep­tion of fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions is chang­ing. Canada’s sta­ble — of­ten thought tra­di­tional — fi­nan­cial sec­tor has started to push the bound­aries in in­no­va­tion, be­com­ing bea­cons of cre­ativ­ity and driv­ing tech­no­log­i­cal and foun­da­tional ad­vance­ments.

One such com­pany is Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). Over the past decade, RBC has been at the fore­front of pur­su­ing new ways to do busi­ness. “Ev­ery sec­tor right now is go­ing through dis­rup­tion and bank­ing is no dif­fer­ent,” ex­plains Chris­tine Silva, Se­nior Di­rec­tor, In­trapreneur­ship & Tal­ent Pro­grams, RBC. “We see the changes hap­pen­ing and we’re fo­cus­ing on how to work in more ag­ile ways. We ask our­selves how we can foster in­no­va­tion and help shape our in­dus­try and what’s com­ing next.”

While some com­pa­nies may rely on out­side sources and ex­perts for in­spi­ra­tion, RBC also ap­pre­ci­ates the im­por­tance of look­ing in­wards as well. “We def­i­nitely need to make sure that while we’re look­ing out­side by build­ing re­la­tion­ships with re­search or­ga­ni­za­tions and part­ner­ships with star­tups to stay on the cut­ting edge, we’re not miss­ing that op­por­tu­nity to tap into the tremen­dous skill set, en­ergy, and pas­sion of our eighty thou­sand em­ploy­ees,” says Silva.

Se­ries of in­trapreneur­ship pro­grams

To tap into the po­ten­tial of their em­ploy­ees, RBC has de­vel­oped a se­ries of in­trapreneur­ship pro­grams that en­hance its abil­ity to foster col­lab­o­ra­tive dia­logue among em­ploy­ees to solve prob­lems us­ing dif­fer­ent and new ways of work­ing. “When we think about in­trapreneur­s, we’re re­ally look­ing for em­ploy­ees who think and act like en­trepreneur­s. They have that pas­sion for in­no­va­tion. They want to pitch new ideas and col­lab­o­rate on cool so­lu­tions, so we’re cre­at­ing those op­por­tu­ni­ties, cre­at­ing the con­di­tions to en­gage em­ploy­ees in all dif­fer­ent parts of our com­pany in in­no­va­tion.”

An in­spir­ing work­place

To max­i­mize in­clu­sive­ness and ideagen­er­a­tion, Ven­ture In­side RBC is an in­trapreneur­ship ini­tia­tive open to the en­tire RBC work­force. Ven­ture In­side al­lows RBC em­ploy­ees to share their chal­lenges and ideas in an on­line in­ter­nal com­mu­nity. “We cre­ated a com­mu­nity of in­trapreneur­s and we crowd­source ideas from em­ploy­ees. It’s re­ally giv­ing us the chance to col­lec­tively come up with new ideas that fo­cus on po­ten­tial so­lu­tions to com­pelling busi­ness prob­lems,” says Silva.

“One of the in­trapreneur­s in the pro­gram pitched the idea of hav­ing a group of em­ploy­ees with speci- fic sub­ject mat­ter ex­per­tise act as a first point of con­tact for col­leagues who re­quire their knowl­edge,” ex­plains Silva. “This be­came an Am­bas­sador pro­gram where RBC em­ploy­ees with spe­cial skills, in­ter­ests, or ex­per­tise such as graphic de­sign or user in­ter­face and user ex­pe­ri­ence (UI/ UX) pro­vide con­sul­ta­tions in their sub­ject mat­ter area. Part of what we do is con­nect­ing the dots for peo­ple who need dif­fer­ent types of skills for dif­fer­ent types of in­no­va­tion projects.”

Also for em­ploy­ees, RBC in­tro­duced the RBCx pro­gram, which is where in­no­va­tive staff mem­bers from all lev­els are cho­sen for a 10-week sec­ond­ment that al­lows them to pur­sue dis­rup­tive ideas and solve prob­lems. Em­ploy­ees form teams, flex their in­trapreneur­ship mus­cles and work col­lab­o­ra­tively to tackle busi­ness chal­lenges brought for­ward by lead­ers. Rather than the pro­gram be­ing a the­o­ret­i­cal ex­er­cise, RBC is cur­rently ex­plor­ing some of the ideas aris­ing from RBCx, and pre­par­ing for more to come.

If you’re look­ing for a work­place that not only ap­pre­ci­ates cre­ativ­ity but ac­tively nur­tures it and works hard to re­main a leader in an ev­er­chang­ing busi­ness land­scape, RBC may be the right place for you.

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