Post COVID-19: Stimulating Organisational Entrepreneurship

Sep 30, 2020 11:38:05 AM

The level of entrepreneurship in an economy is cyclical, and historically precedes the economic cycle. The post-pandemic recovery of the global economy, nations and value chains will rely on the level of entrepreneurship to increase and lift new and existing organisations and ultimately whole economies. Never before in most people’s working lives has the entrepreneurial spirit been more important for organisations to survive, innovate, explore opportunities and thrive through the down-turn triggered by the pandemic and beyond.

COVID-19 has accelerated digitisation, changed how people work, how consumers (and companies!) buy products and services, and how people travel – all in all leading to great opportunities as well as even greater risks for many businesses. Whether you explore opportunities or mitigate risks, actions are required to achieve results. In all organisations, decisions precede actions implying that the decision-making process becomes increasingly important. In times of dynamic and unpredictable change, most decisions are best made close to where the knowledge is created and by the people and teams who understand the situation and context – and who can take ownership and responsibility of the consequences. This is the essence of entrepreneurship; to assume responsibility for changes and be prepared to take risks. To succeed in the longer run, the entrepreneurs (or intrapreneurs) also need to lead the changes and see them through to deliver results.

Seven pre-COVID and COVID-accelerated trends in this development are:

  • 1 - Digitalisation, with a history of entrepreneurial companies out-performing traditional incumbents
  • 2 - Sustainability, including a purpose-driven, visionary and including leadership
  • 3 - Agile ways of working becoming more mature and applied pragmatically
  • 4 - Hybrid workplace becoming the new normal, placing new demands on leadership and communication
  • 5 - Emergence of a new breed of organisation models moving towards ‘self-management’ and network-based leadership, exemplified by successful role model companies in several industries
  • 6 - Geo-political tensions which in a globalised business context require companies to handle uncertainty
  • 7 - The sheer commercial necessity to act boldly, in a state of crisis and period of disruption

So, how do you nurture the entrepreneurial spirit in an organisation? How can your organisation become more innovative, agile, resilient, purposeful and sustainably profitable by encouraging and emphasising entrepreneurship?

We at Centigo would high-light the importance of values, purpose, culture, leadership, structure/organisation, innovation and customer-orientation:

It is tempting in times of uncertainty for leaders to tighten the centralised control, We advocate that companies which apply such a command-and-control culture are at risk to be outperformed by more entrepreneurial organisations which have the innovation muscle and devolved competence and perseverance to execute.

Entrepreneurship in an organisation starts with the individual leaders and employees. Their bias for action; to assume responsibility and take the initiative is typically driven by a sense of alignment with the organisation’s purpose, values and culture. In addition, the cultural aspects need to go hand in hand with structures which support and promote entrepreneurship. Even with the best of values and culture in an organisation, entrepreneurship can be effectively suffocated by bureaucratic and hierarchical structures. Such cultural and structural challenges for aspiring entrepreneurs – or intrapreneurs – can make individuals and whole teams leave the organisation or become significantly less motivated to contribute in its innovation and development.

Successful entrepreneurship is based not only on innovation and initiative but on perseverance, adaptability and grit. In an entrepreneurial team, or a team of teams that make up an organisation, the leadership style differs from the paradigm that prevails in traditional multi-level hierarchies with bosses and subordinates. Common denominators in entrepreneurial organisations are that leaders excel in inspiring and coaching colleagues and ecosystem partners, communicating a vision, leading by example and hereby earning the organisation's trust through words and deeds.

Customer-orientation and entrepreneurship go hand in hand. In an entrepreneurial organisation, the emphasis lies on serving customers and living up to the company’s purpose rather than working for one’s boss.

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Businesses reach out to and rely upon Centigo every day to define and implement business-critical changes. To build and develop entrepreneurship in an organisation, Centigo has successfully helped companies and organisations through three different approaches.

  • - By using a major transformational change programme in the company as the vehicle for change and embed the cultural and new structural aspects of entrepreneurship and change leadership as one desired outcome, over and above the tangible deliveries of the programme. A necessity to make this approach sticky is to develop the organisation’s leaders during the programme period to make the cultural and structural changes sustainable over time.
  • - New businesses, be they new divisions or business areas in a larger organisation or new entities such as start-up’s, JV’s or carve-out’s, can start out from an almost clean slate. With less baggage, the opportunity to create an entrepreneurial culture and supporting structure is greater.
  • - When there is a massive pressure to change, as a consequence of external drivers (regulatory changes, overwhelming disruption) or internal necessity (profitability, lack of funding, collapse of leadership). As the so-called burning platform for change becomes obvious for all stakeholders, leaders can seize the opportunity to break up everything which structurally and culturally prevents the organisation to succeed. The pandemic is pushing many private companies towards this situation. Massive pressure to change can also be experienced public sector and non-profit organisations, eg through new legislation and societal emergencies.

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Here at Centigo, we have 300+ consultants who are highly qualified, well trained and experienced across a wide range of industries who can be deployed rapidly to help you inject entrepreneurship in your organisation. We can:  

  • - Work with your board and executive team to define what areas to prioritise, define actionable options to move forward, and describe a plan for implementation.
  • - Inspire and lead the change journey, working closely with the organisation to achieve both cultural and structural changes, as well as ensuring that benefits are achieved and sustained. 
  • - Evaluate your readiness for change and identify issues and weaknesses with recommendations on how to explore opportunities and mitigate risks. 
  • - Provide coaching and mentoring to leaders of the organisation in order to improve continuously and sustain the changes.

Every organisation is by nature different and will need the activities above tailored to meet its specific needs. Although the benefits of injecting entrepreneurship in an organisation are very similar regardless industry or type of work environment, the approach needs to be adapted to the unique conditions at hand. To find out how Centigo can help you to develop the entrepreneurial spirit in your organisation, feel free to contact one of our partners below.


Contact Ragnar Agnell 


Contact Kevin Bell


Contact Henrik P. Lofgren



Tags: Innovation Agile Customer Service Centigo_UK Startup Organisational_Development Trends Change COVID-19 Sustainability M&A