What makes a successful pilot? 5 things I learned about intrapreneurship from launching Women in Software

Intrapreneurship: the act of behaving like an entrepreneur while working within a large organisation

The WIS 2020 launch
At the WIS 2019 reception
The WIS 2020 launch

1. People at senior levels want to see it happen

For something to go far and to last, at the very least you need the person leading your team to believe in it. Alex gave a bright green light and got excited, and involved. We got buy-in from senior levels, which was crucial.

2. Partners want to see it succeed

Another vital aspect was aligning with external communities (this year, we’ve also had Google for Startups show their support — plus The Woolf Partnership is sponsoring an instant cash prize of £3,000 for the 2020 Woman in Software). This ignites the initiative with more gravitas.

The WIS 2019 evening reception

3. There is one clear leader for each different area

If people don’t know what they’re responsible for, things get messy: egos get scarred, people feel invisible, then deflated, then demotivated. It’s hard to define roles when it’s a pilot — fitting this new yet temporary set of deadlines into someone’s existing obligations can be tricky. Sometimes people want to be involved but realistically don’t have capacity.

4. One person takes overall ownership

It’s so easy when things fail for people to point to someone else and say ‘oh I thought you were handling that?’. Ultimately the buck has to stop with someone: ONE person has to take overall responsibility and to fill in inevitable gaps between teams, misunderstandings, and miscommunication. I enjoyed being the human FAQ.

5. There’s a strong and undeniable why

Often projects fall down when someone just wants to do their own little part that’s easy for them but shrink away from the less attractive tasks. Last year I found myself doing a ton of frankly very dull admin and part of me thought — should I really be doing this? Is this the best use of my time?

Know an amazing woman in tech? She could win £3,000. Women in Software 2020 nominations are open until March 6th here.

Writing stories (www.adelebarlow.com) and helping companies tell theirs (www.copyand.co)