Working with Max Farrell of Create Reason to bring ideas to pitches at our Creation Jam session.

Apply the lean startup model, think like a business owner, move fast and break things – these are directives that entrepreneurs are hearing and embracing as they start their new businesses. But they are also principles that are being applied by established businesses as technology rapidly changes and every person in a company has the power to create, promote and grow ideas into businesses online. Companies are now embracing and even cultivating the entrepreneur mindset that already lives in many employees. And a new term has bubbled up for such employees: intrapreneurs, those who work for a company, but can work on and build products and services within that company using support from leadership and the talent existing at said company.

Stone Ward is a company that actively supports the startup community around us – with talent, mentorship, services and even, at times, investment. As we participated and got involved with these fledgling companies, we saw traits in the founders that we also saw in our employees. We have always encouraged our teams to pursue ideas they found interesting and especially those they found revenue-generating, but we had never explored a specific platform for supporting those efforts.  It was more a mindset than a structured opportunity. Enter Create Reason.

Create Reason is itself a startup company made up of founders that we have crossed paths with many times over the last two years. When they came to Stone Ward with their business model and pitched us on hosting a “Creation Jam” for our teams, we saw the platform and structure opportunity to support intrapreneurs’ ideas that we were missing and quickly jumped on board. And yesterday, we held our first Stone Ward Creation Jam (#StoneWardJam).

A Creation Jam is basically a Startup Weekend for a company. We did ours in one day, but they can last over several days like a Startup Weekend. The difference when doing it inside a company rather than among strangers is that we had specific business goals on which to focus and we were looking for ideas that made sense with our Stone Ward business model, talents and services.

Admittedly, many of our team members were skeptical of the idea of a Creation Jam. They didn’t really understand it, they didn’t think they had any valuable ideas, didn’t think they had time to take a day out of their busy schedules and heavy workloads to focus on business ideas, and they weren’t sure that the leaders of our company would actually follow through with any of the ideas. These were fair concerns. But those concerns were quickly erased within the first hour of the Creation Jam. We had 15 employees get on stage with their 60-second pitches for ideas. We had nine teams form around ideas and nine  three-minute pitches at the end of the day. People were excited about their ideas, worked with team members they wouldn’t normally work with in our day-to-day projects and realized they did have what it takes to be an intrapreneur. The day was a success. People left proud, feeling like they had accomplished something and eager to pursue their ideas further. We saw people shine in ways we never expected and saw talents we didn’t know our team members had bubble up.

The bottom line: supporting an intrapreneurship mentality in our company has opened up a world of possibilities for our business and has been a spark to light fires of passion in our employees. And it is just plain fun. I can’t wait to see how some of the ideas from our Creation Jam blossom in the coming months.

Stone Ward Creation Jam Powered by Create Reason from RetroCat Media on Vimeo.