During a 2015 kickoff meeting in our Seattle office, we were addressing the ongoing challenge of the three-headed monster– fee, quality, schedule–something any business, in some form, must address thoroughly in order to stay in business. But really, the “secret sauce”, I wasn’t really able to identify until just recently; that is, our culture of “intrapreneurship”. (Though we didn’t coin the term, we’ll borrow it for this post.) When we, CDi Engineers joined Mazzetti back in May of last year, I observed this similar culture. I feel it boils down to ownership and pride.
“Edward the Entrepreneur”
If you were to describe “Edward”, you might include the following: aggressive risk taker, resilient in the face of doubt, open to making something out of nothing. You would probably say, Edward is an extravert with great interpersonal skills. Edward is probably not a strict “rule-follower”, rather, he looks to stretch and bend to almost create his own rules to support his cause. Edward, if successful, has a laser-focus and vision to execute well.
As consulting engineers, most engineers probably lean toward the opposite end of the personality spectrum. One of my colleagues likes to say,
“How can you tell an engineer is an extrovert?
When he’s looking at YOUR shoes.”
As engineers, our personality traits are primarily inward focused, based on facts. We avoid substantial risk at all costs. But in fairness, we’re trained to solve problems via investigation, analysis, more analysis… and even more analysis. Our solutions are based upon theories, rules and hypotheses.
However, didn’t I mention something about our “secret sauce”?!
I really feel we have something special.
We cultivate a culture that breeds intrapreneurs….
What does that mean?
Taking individual ownership of our projects & client relationships.
Taking calculated risks that can lead to lessons learned for the future.
Managing our time and expenses to meet the budget accordingly.
Being agile, particularly in our project management and delivery.
Though, we’re not claiming to be a company full of Zuckerbergs, Jobs, or Gates (all of whom, dropped out of college, so we’re far more educated!), we are definitely not a “factory of engineers” either. We do take pride and ownership, while pushing the mold to always do it better. It’s a culture we’re proud to continue cultivating in 2015.
Open to hearing how other A/E firms are promoting this type of intrapreneur mindset. Or perhaps you feel differently. Please share your thoughts below.