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The Intrapreneur Within Our Organisations

The Intrapreneur Within Our Organisations

Are we seeing a change in mentality within large organisations towards encouraging individuals to ‘break out and become more intrapreneurial within their part of the business?’

Is this tapping into the increasing desire to be part of creating something new, to grab back the engagement needed, that sense of identity and a growing sense of ownership?

Large organisations sense they are missing out on radically different business opportunities and cast their envious eyes towards the young start-ups, not just coming up with original ideas to solve existing problems and pent-up needs, but seeing the work as potentially disruptive to those managing in the existing space.

This start-up and entrepreneurial spirit are making many senior executives nervous and they want to find ways to harness this within their own organisations, and thus the intrapreneurial movement has been born and is growing fast.

It is tapping into an internal need for everyone involved, to innovate in different and more radical ways. Partly we are seeing a restless younger workforce who want to break out of restricting and confining jobs. They want to find more meaningful ways to contribute, to engage, to find ways where they can be impactful, not just in their careers but in making something happen, that is different and better than the existing.

The challenge is in the structure and format and character of those Intrapreneurs

There is no single way to do intrapreneurship. It needs a significant amount of attention, commitment and determination. Each design perhaps is unique to fit individual circumstances.

From the organisation's point of view, they need to set up a clear, distinct, more than likely, separate business practice, that liberates people to build upon their emerging entrepreneurial personalities. They need to build the walls and fences so as to protect the ideas, support the work in progress, nurture the people involved and allow for a higher level of patience to see a return coming ‘down the line’.

So what is different and what does that mean to whom?

Intrapreneurship has to be established as a specific system that can be set up and provided to those wanting to take on a different challenge. It needs to become a solid part of the strategy for innovation otherwise it is quickly seen as ‘just another experiment.’ This would fail to attract the right type of person; it signals a lack of commitment, so those budding Intrapreneurs stay hidden in the woodwork or looking to leave, so as to break free to pursue their personal goals and dreams, even taking away the emerging blueprint to disrupt the very firm that has given them this understanding.

There are many enablers to make this transition happen. The most critical are deep management support, creating a culture for entrepreneurship to thrive and knowing the type of people that can make this happen. The quality of any ideas, the mandate that goes with that idea and the funding and milestones needed to be in place and the clarity of failure and what that means. Each of these becomes a critical enabler to make this concept work.

So to intrapreneurially tango you have to have a clear mandate

  1. To ensure the team has degrees of freedom to create, design and innovate
  2. The mandate that they can question and challenge the existing mould to achieve success
  3. Knowing the break points to being commercially courageous against being foolhardy, to know the confines of risk but the chance to grab a real opportunity
  4. To find the ways to keep all involved energised, incentivised and focused on the prize, the opportunities and the contribution to the goals
  5. To keep informing, to make the work transparent and open for others to contribute, help and support.
  6. Knowing the difference between timely updates and keeping the head down just that little longer as the breakthrough ‘ahh’ is just around the corner
  7. Design in consciously the methods and ways the organisation sees’s the value and the alignment
  8. Be constantly aware that performance will be judged, more than likely under a harsher spotlight than for others and recognise what you are working on is commercially critical and decisions will often be based on pragmatic, rather than opportunist or idealistic criteria. Live with it as part and parcel of the job.
  9. Consciously stay out of the everyday stream, even challenge if this should go through a typical ‘stage gate’ process as it is really hard for most to understand what makes up a great idea and that it is not a linear process but an iterative one, full of loops, failures, experimentations and revalidating and retesting.
  10. Make sure the governance is highly dynamic and agile, trading off the progress of insights, learning, discovery and experimentation in a journey that recognises iterative and flexible decision making that favours adaptation and informing. Making sure there is a right to make mistakes as long as people learn from them and they were contained within the confines of the risk profile.

Intrapreneurship offers the potential of being a vital part of your innovation strategy

As organisations seek growth they need to encourage higher levels of impact. Those that take the route of becoming an intrapreneur share in this desire to build something that has a valuable contribution and impact.

To take on this challenge requires a different mindset and most probably set in a ring-fenced environment. One that conveys flexibility and agility but a need for pace and speed, have higher levels of risk-taking and a clear realisation that failure is part of the learning, a commitment level sometimes beyond ‘belief’ and simply don’t take existing procedures, barriers and established rules of engagement as a reason not to do something, they are true ‘bunker busters’.

In summary

More and more value creation is coming from start-ups, they search for dynamism and points of significant competition, to deliver those more radical, sometimes disruptive solutions.

To overcome the built-in risk-adverse and general slowness in large organisations, intrapreneurs need amazing energy to ‘push the obstacle and barriers’ out of the way and still stay ‘fixated’ on the opportunity to bring it to commercial fruition.

Not an easy task but one that is running in parallel to the entrepreneur outside, demonstrating they can deliver on a dream and opportunity that does make a clear contribution and impact.

So are you tapping into this real momentum behind the idea of Intrapreneurship within your organisation? Are you seeking out validated learning?

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