Are intrapreneurs having an impact on organizations? That is a question that is being raised at the highest levels of organizations.
Although many organizations are embracing intrapreneurship there is an underlying skepticism about exactly what the contribution of intrapreneurs is to the organization or what they are doing to move the organization forward.
These are great questions and ones that need to be asked by every organization. By exploring these questions, organizations will begin to see and understand the true value of intrapreneurs.
Up until this point many organizations have judged Intrapreneurs by the bottom line. Did the project succeed or fail? Did the company make money or not? Is it worth continuing to invest any more money into these ventures? Part of the reason for this is that many organizations look at new business initiatives as an investment not a way to change or transform their organizations to be more entrepreneurial. Getting a return on your investment is important but so is building the capabilities your organization needs to deal with an uncertain future.
Traditional metrics are not enough to measure success. Organizations need to look at the impact that intrapreneurs are having on the organization itself. Not just in the numbers but in the way they are changing the business model.
- They are bringing new thinking to the organization.
- They are dealing effectively with ambiguity and uncertainty.
- They are energizing and engaging co-workers.
- They are helping shape and change the culture.
- They are modeling a new type of leadership.
- They are finding new ways to execute with precision.
- They are building strong relationships with customers.
- They are redefining how work gets done.
- They are creating new systems and processes.
- They are helping attract and retain employees.
- They are re-branding the organization to be more entrepreneurial.
- They are making the organization more responsive to market changes.
- They are leveraging new technology in new and creative ways.
- They are creating value that has a social and environmental impact.
- They are leading their companies into the future.
- And yes, they are having an impact on the bottom line.
These are some of the impacts that intrapreneurs are having on organizations.
These impacts are not always bold and forceful, they are often subtle and hidden. The impact itself may not be felt right away but can be far reaching. It may not be obvious to the leadership team until it has been integrated into the fabric of the organization. It may not be acknowledged until something goes right or wrong with an intrapreneurial initiative. It may not take on meaning until it can be measured and quantified. But keep in mind that these things are having an impact none the less.
Never have we seen a shift in power from the organization to the individual. As Intrapreneurship takes hold in organizations it is not only transforming organizations it is disrupting them. But this disruption is not destructive it is constructive. It is transformative.
It is not only an operational shift, but also a behavioral shift that is taking place. A shift that by its very nature is changing the culture of the organization, the way work gets done and the way the organization operates.
Intrapreneurship is all about change and transformation. The goal is to build the capabilities that enable organizations to deal effectively with change. Yet we know that resistance to change is the number one challenge facing intrapreneurs. People and organizations by their very nature are resistant to change. Intrapreneurs are the ones that must break through that resistance.
Intrapreneurs are driving change not because they feel they want to but because they know they need to. They see a very different way of operating then past generations of workers. That is why these subtle shifts are not always as obvious to the rest of the organization.
It is not something that can easily be measured at a point in time but over time. It is not something that you can assign a high or low value until you see the full impact of it on the organization. It is not something you can label disruptive if it moves your company forward.
Perhaps if we started measuring some of these impacts, we would start to see the positive benefits that intrapreneurs and intrapreneurship bring to organizations more clearly. That aggressively embracing intrapreneurship and encouraging intrapreneurs would accelerate this transformation and minimize the disruption so that organizations can more quickly adapt and respond to market changes.
There are a number of organizations that are already doing this. They are reaping the benefits listed above and achieving the financial goals that have always been the measure of success.
What about your organization? What is the impact that intrapreneurs and intrapreneurship are having on your organization?
Originally published in 2016. Updated in 2021.