As the director of the field support center for Mediacom Communications, the fifth-largest cable operator in the U.S., I was approached by my boss to participate in a leadership training program with a colleague. I immediately jumped onto my computer to learn more about The Cable Center's Intrapreneurship Academy — also known as “IA” — to see what I was getting myself into.
To my surprise, the educational program was designed to provide mid-tier cable-industry executives with the leadership skills and mindset to become intrapreneurs — to envision and affect change and to innovate within their own organization. Recently, I had been battling an “if It ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality with some colleagues, so the timing could not have been better.
Hearing phrases like this inside an organization can create a culture that makes many individuals fearful of change. Some of my own team members were reluctant to express their ideas or make recommendations for improvement. Through an ideation session facilitated by IA and our class curriculum, I was able to immediately improve communications with my own team and reduce the negativity that was discouraging innovation. During our ideation session, one associate that doesn’t normally express her opinions proved it was her day to shine and opened up to us. I was so pleased that IA had enabled me to create a forum for our team where she was comfortable enough to share her ideas.
By working with the dean and other participants, I learned to push myself to think more broadly, which opened my eyes to other perspectives. I gained more confidence and mastered negotiation tips to go back to the drawing board and confront the people that were resistant to the “transformation” I envisioned and wanted to see implemented.
My goal for my IA class project was to demonstrate how I could maximize manpower. I needed to ensure all our customers were getting the help, problem-solving and courteous service each and every time they asked for support. That meant my entire team had to be available whenever and wherever — even if budgets were tight or not available.
Life after the program also changed for me, as I became more aware of the needs and challenges of other departments within my organization. I no longer wanted to work in just my silo; I was inspired to connect. I reached out to the training department and was simply blown away that by having a better understanding of what they were doing — and why — equipped me to position my Workforce Management solution in a whole new light.
Expecting the Unexpected
Based on my findings, I was able to work through and present a budget strategy. It wasn’t rocket science, but it made all the difference in the world. I requested a budget for the unexpected, like the field work that comes due to weather, or other delays that could be estimated based on historical data. Thanks to IA, I successfully changed the way budgets were allocated to cover field work for “pinches” that arose from delays and increased the number of satisfied Mediacom customers.
The advice I would give to other intrapreneurs is to trust yourself, open your eyes, listen to those around you and keep pushing for what you believe in. If you’re looking for a worthwhile training program, and an amazing support system, I highly recommend the Intrapreneurship Academy.
Lagwana Tyler is director, field support center at Mediacom Communications and a participant in The Cable Center’s Intrapreneurship Academy, which consists of two days of on-site training at The Cable Center in Denver, followed by six weeks of online classroom instruction, and concluding with a two-day capstone back at The Cable Center. Classes are held throughout the year. For more information and to register, visit www.intrapreneurshipacademy.org.