Intrapreneurship is now on the radar of large organizations and gaining traction. My guess is that it isn’t the organization but the intrapreneurs that are driving this movement inside their organizations.

Although the concept of intrapreneurship has been around since the 80’s, most organizations had not embraced it or understood the benefits of it until today.

Often disguised as innovation it still remains an enigma to many organizations. Innovation and intrapreneurship are so intertwined that it is difficult to see daylight between them. Intrapreneurship sets the context for innovation. It provides the infrastructure needed to support and sustain innovation over time – the right people, processes and environment. Setting the context for innovation establishes a foundation for continuous innovation – no matter what type of innovation you are developing.

The growing interest in Intrapreneurship is based on a number of issues facing organizations.

  1. Organizations need to generate new business growth.
  2. Build an environment to support and sustain innovation.
  3. Attract and retain the best and brightest talent
  4. Facilitate and effectively accelerate change.
  5. Help employees stretch and grow while keeping them engaged.
  6. Improve productivity and increase financial returns.

These organizations see intrapreneurship as an answer to these issues. They are right.

The research has shown that there is strong correlation between intrapreneurship and new business growth. It helps organizations support and sustain innovation over the long term. It helps them attract and retain the best and brightest. It makes it easier for them to respond to change. It keeps employees engaged. Most importantly it improves productivity and financial returns.

Intrapreneurship is not however a silver bullet. It can provide significant benefits but there are also costs and risks associated with it. There is a need to guide and control intrapreneurial activities within an organization. It’s a balancing act. Finding the right balance between the core business and the new business that you are building. It’s a two way street. Organizations must cultivate the entrepreneurial mindset while they maintain that balance between the core business and the growth business.

Although business growth is the overall end game, intrapreneurship is not easy – it is difficult to achieve.  It challenges traditional organizational practices.  Many of the things that are needed to support the core business are just the opposite of what is required in a new business venture. The systems, processes, policies and practices can get in the way. They stifle innovation and growth. Finding creative ways to deal with existing systems and creating new ones is key.

There are no roadmaps or guidebooks to follow. You are creating a new path. You will run up against things that the organization has not had to deal with before. Everything in the organization is a potential barrier. You will not know what they are until you encounter them. You will have to do whatever it takes to get from strategy to execution. That requires knowing where the organization is flexible and where it is not. Making unpopular decisions and going against the grain.

Keep in mind that when we talk about intrapreneurship we are talking about change. Changing everything that is needed to support the new business. Changing the way people think and act, changing how the organization operates, and changing the culture. Intrapreneurship pushes the existing boundaries and tests the limits of organizational systems and processes. There is no right way or perfect way to implement intrapreneurship. You must develop the process as you move forward.

Intrapreneurship is gaining traction because it solves many of the issues facing organizations today. But integrating intrapreneurship into the fabric of the organization is not easy. It takes a very special type of leader.  It takes an intrapreneur.

Intrapreneurs are leading the way.  They….

  • Operate effectively in the core business at the same time they are building a new one.
  • Openly question and challenge traditional business practices, policies and procedures.
  • Enjoy creating new systems and processes to support the new business.
  • Tear down barriers and push through organizational obstacles to get things done.
  • Not only drive change but model the change they hope to achieve through their behavior.
  • Balance the tradeoff between short term and long term demands of the business.
  • More …..

The goal of intrapreneurship is to build the capabilities that enable organizations to change. The catalyst for that change are the intrapreneurs that make that change happen.

Yes, organizations are embracing Intrapreneurship but it is Intrapreneurs that are making it a reality.

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