If we look at Intrapreneurs and the value they bring to organizations it is clear that they are more than just an organizational asset. So ask yourself – Are Intrapreneurs more like a product or service?  It may sound crazy to think of Intrapreneurs this way but is it?

In many ways Intrapreneurs are a product of their environment, experience and their learning.  They are either fortunate to work in an entrepreneurial culture that helps them build their entrepreneurial muscle or they independently seek out opportunities where they build them on their own.  Like many organizations that produce things, organizations develop and produce intrapreneurs or they don’t.  Even if organizations do not look at Intrapreneurs in this way they are a product.

Intrapreneurs are also a service because they provide capabilities so desperately needed in organizations today; creativity, innovation, change etc.  Like a consultant or coach Intrapreneurs model the behavior and change that is needed to enable organizations to be more entrepreneurial.  As a common practice organizations hire consultants to advise them and help them achieve their goals. This is a capability intrapreneurs perform as part of their role.   They provide a service even if organizations only think of what they do as work. 

So perhaps Intrapreneurs are a little of both.

Over the last several years we’ve seen a shift taking place in business where organizations are tailoring jobs to individuals not the other way around.  According to Chauncey Lennon, JPMorgan’s Workforce Initiatives, “The workforce of the past was organized around the company. The workforce of the future is organized around the worker.” That makes intrapreneurs a product that has value and is in demand.

There are a number of factors at play here that are driving this trend.

In a talent based economy, results are driven by a smaller set of high performing individuals. Organizations want people who generate innovative ideas and create new products.  They need people to drive and lead change, turn problems into opportunities and effectively deal with complexity and ambiguity. They know that if they do not the find the right people it may hurt their bottom line.

Organizations are under pressure to generate new growth from within. They have spent the last decade investing in products and services that were mature or at the end of their life cycle.  Many organizations are being hurt by start-ups that are operating in the fast lane and leaving them in the dust.  New growth must come from new services and offerings created by internal intrapreneurs.

Most knowledge work can be done electronically and remotely. Work is being organized around networks and communities not organizational structures and hierarchy.  Technology has freed workers from their desk, their offices and their organizations.  It is easy for workers to set up, launch and build their own business.  That’s why we see a growing number of employees leaving their organizations. Technology is driving this change and organizations are having to respond to this change.

Workers are in now in the driver’s seat. It may not seem like that but it is true. 

The true intrapreneur is creating their own opportunity, their own career path, their own way of working.  The research shows that one of the key reasons for being successful in today’s business environment is due to understanding, embracing and living by an entrepreneurial mindset in the organization. It’s a matter of thinking and acting like an entrepreneur.  That’s why intrapreneurs are needed more than ever.

It is also because Intrapreneurs are aware of the opportunities that are out there.  They know that the next Uber, Airbnb are out there waiting to be discovered.  It is just a matter of finding the opportunity and building a business around it.  In today’s environment they have the tools, resources and ability to make it happen.

According to Tom Friedman, “Employers will no longer pay you for what you know, but only for what you do with what you know. This is the great divide between success and failure in the 21st century economy.” From this perspective it looks like Intrapreneurs provide a service.

Either way you think about it, in order to prepare yourself for the new reality at work you need to think about how you package, promote and sell yourself.

Here are a few things you can be doing now.

  • Build a personal brand: Who are you, what do you stand for, what experiences and capabilities do you bring to an opportunity and what tools and techniques do you use?
  • Self-awareness: Know yourself, your strengths, weaknesses, what makes you different and how you stand out from your peers.
  • Competencies: Assess whether you have the intrapreneurial competencies to be successful and then take the initiative to develop those capabilities that need further work.
  • Demonstrate Potential: Demonstrate that you have what it takes to be an intrapreneur by putting your thoughts and words into actions and getting results.
  • Experience: Build a portfolio of intrapreneurial experiences that show that you understand what it takes to be an intrapreneur in a variety of situations.
  • Increase Visibility: Increase your visibility thru social media, blog postings, speaking engagements, presentations so that you find your voice.
  • Networking: Start networking with other intrapreneurs, build your own community and stay on top of intrapreneurship by attending workshops, conferences and seminars.

The more you do these things the better prepared you will be for taking advantage of this opportunity.

It doesn’t really matter if you think of Intrapreneurs as a product or service.  What is most important is having the ability to package and promote yourself as if you were. 


Graphic Courtesy of M4M: Maxims4Mavericks.com

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