By Kevin J. Goodman and Roger Mitan
Northeast Ohio has a terrific work force capable and willing to reeducate itself. It is made up of immigrants, workers in transition, and returning veterans among others. BlueBridge Networks is in the IT data center business and it finds itself able to help bridge a gap — to serve as a link in chain, a bond in a connection between students and industry, in education, by serving on the Northeast Ohio Regional Information Technology Engagement (NEO RITE) Board. It is a collaboration of senior IT executives who are committed to advancing the regional IT industry by facilitating robust interaction among employer, education, and community stakeholders.
Board members originally convened as part of a state initiative to identify and eliminate “skills gaps” that were resulting in a lack of qualified IT workers and difficulty filling open positions. Board members agreed that these skills gaps were real, that the ability to find skilled IT talent was critical to their success in a competitive marketplace, and that sourcing this talent locally offered the biggest advantages to their firms.
A united industry voice offered the potential to shrink those gaps by enhancing industry feedback to educators, spreading awareness of IT careers, and promoting best practices in experiential learning. That potential was so promising, and initial feedback from the educational community so positive, that these individuals decided to formalize their commitment to move the above initiatives forward.
We enjoy working with creative people and teams in and quickly changing landscape in the digital age. We find that in a highlight of our careers. In the information technology arena we find ourselves often times attracted to positions that can offer this, and there are many talented individuals out there who feel the same way. The entrepreneur seems to not wish to be put into a silo of doing the same thing day in and day out and want to have some freedom to roam a bit. We have found that these types of people are generally great employees when their energy can be motivated by more than money or power but by ambition to make a difference and express their entrepreneurial spirit.
This is the type of person who is attracted to starting his or her own business, but often times the risks outweigh the results, so they end up accepting a job to pay the bills and stifle their creativity. So the question comes up of how to attract these types of individuals to established businesses large and small and take advantage of this ambition to help grow your company. One answer is by embracing an “intrapreneurial” culture within the company and inspiring a catalyst for change and growth. The value of providing opportunities for individuals to take on projects and new ventures for which their creative ideas can positively affect the outcome and give them visibility in the company as well.
Providing these types of opportunities benefits both the individual and the company. There is a held sense of efficacy and reciprocity. The company benefits from something that will hopefully have a positive impact on the bottom line as well as attracting talented, hardworking employees. The individual will get the feeling of ownership and creativity like they would have with their own company but with far fewer risks.
The risk of the recipe going south can occur if too much latitude is given without careful inspection of risk analysis. Structure seems to be a key variable for success and a system to measure outcomes. Even with controlling these items, as with anything, these projects won’t always be successes, but you can take steps to minimize the impact. By applying a level of proper market analysis, risk analysis, risk mitigation and a healthy dose of common sense should minimize failures as well as their impact on the company, while allowing the seeming failures as a teaching lesson or tuition to success ongoing.
With all of these factors in play, we believe the benefits of this intrapreneurial culture far outweigh the risks. Putting this type of culture in place can attract talent you couldn’t have otherwise afforded or made your company attractive to. Entrepreneurship is great for individuals who can handle the risks, but intrapreneurship may be a great fit to allow those same individuals to flex their creative muscles while still enjoying the security of working for a well-established company.
It is indeed important in business to recognize that over time we build equity in our various relationships. We will build and carry on as a result of this equity. What we do in the whole body of our work matters. Mistakes are part of the plan and process, and what we do as a result of them is critical and will be guiding lights for the future. Haters will see you walk on water and say it’s because you can’t swim. Throw us to the wolves and we entrepreneurs will come back leading the pack. Let our haters be our elevators and resolve that no matter what we will work as a team and persevere and be made better and stronger. Continuous improvement is our lot – it is our collective DNA … we begin again each day anew, each year and every era, no matter what, and build on the various pieces in the puzzle of the entrepreneur personality and make-up.
Kevin Goodman is the managing director, partner with BlueBridge Networks, a downtown Cleveland-headquartered data center and cloud computing business. Roger Mitan is the firm’s director of engineering. They can be reached at (216) 621-2583, firstname.lastname@example.org, kevinjgoodman.com, and bluebridgenetworks.com.
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