All of my career I’ve wondered why organizational development professionals were not given the freedom to do what they do best – make change happen.

At the time most leaders weren’t interested in dealing with the soft side of leadership – people and culture. Their organizations were growing and thriving. There was enough growth to go around.  Everything was fine – leaders saw no reason to change.  After all success breeds more success.

Oh how things have changed.

The new reality is that that soft stuff – people and culture – have now become the hard stuff.  After a decade of cost cutting, downsizing and streamlining operations organizations are now under pressure to grow.  They see innovation as the key to growth. Yet innovation is all about change and change is all about people.  People and organizations are resistant to change.

Leaders recognize the need for change but they do not have the experience base to know how to bring about change.  Most leaders were not trained to deal with major change initiatives.  Change is one of the least developed of the management disciplines.

Sign Post - TextThat’s why change leaders and Intrapreneurs are in such high demand.

So what a surprise to find so many attendees at the OD Network 2013 Conference in San Jose, CA who turned out to be Intrapreneurs.  They seemed to be everywhere, at breakfast, at lunch and in the concurrent sessions.  Every time I sat down there seemed to be a least one Intrapreneur at the table.  Not everyone thought of themselves as an Intrapreneur they were doing what they did best – actively driving change in their organizations.

As the last keynote speaker at the conference I was interested in getting their take on Intrapreneurship and what their organizations were doing to support it.  Many organizations were doing nothing, some were at least exploring the idea and a few were actively supporting Intrapreneurship. It was clear that Intrapreneurship was a topic that was being kicked around in a number of organizations. One attendee said, Intrapreneurship is what we need but it would never work in my organization.” No it won’t until someone makes it happen.

So I felt confident that my presentation on the last day Intrapreneurship – Entrepreneurship in the Corporate World would resonate with the audience. It is tough being the last keynote speaker because you know that many people are anxious to hit the road, some have already left.  My feeling is that those that stay are the most interested in the topic and so it was.

After the session I had an opportunity to speak with a number of OD practitioners.  All agreed that Intrapreneurship was something their organizations needed but it was a question of how.  I said it was up to them. Do what you do.  Be the change you hope to achieve.

After all OD practitioners are change agents and Intrapreneurs.

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