FB15As part of 2015’s Global Entrepreneurship Week, I am revisiting some of my older articles and applying lessons learned / new thinking that has been gained over the last 6-9 months. This article grabs text from a variety of different articles that I’ve written over the last four years as well as consultancy and speaking engagements. This is an introduction to the concept of intrapreneurship (corporate entrepreneurs) for organizations interested in developing new ways of working.

“Intrapreneurship and you”
It may be a 30-year old turn of phrase but ‘intrapreneurship’ has only really got into the mainstream in the last few years – and, in doing so, the currency and value of it diminishes.

Admit it… how many experts and advisors are there out there selling a variety of solutions and services (many of whom are barely entrepreneurs never mind intrapreneurs). As the quantity of the market grows, the quality of the provider diminishes.

So if intrapreneurship is in vogue (along with, for example, mindfulness), then the question to be asked by your key decision makers is a simple one: what’s in it for us?

Applying intrapreneurship
There are a number of benefits to be derived from applying intrapreneurship principles within your enterprise:

  • Increased market share
  • Enhanced profitability
  • Greater customer engagement
  • Development of new revenue streams
  • Growing engagement with local & national communities
  • Greater employee engagement
  • Improved employer brand (for hiring the best)
  • Development of new products and services

This sounds lovely – we ‘simply’ become intrapreneurial and all of these amazing things happen.

The practicality of it is that it is unlikely that any organization will leave the office on a Friday only in order to come back on Monday suddenly intrapreneurial.

But… ignoring this leads to extinction. Consider organizations that didn’t take into account market disruptors and innovators: Kodak, Blockbuster, and Borders.

What will be next? As an example, ‘fintech’ (financial technology is a line of business based on using software to provide financial services – one of their key purposes is to disrupt incumbent financial systems and corporations that rely less on software).

How about the growth of such organizations as Uber (disrupting the entire taxi industry) or Airbnb – a website for people to list, find, and rent lodging that has over 1,500,000 listings in 34,000 cities and 190 countries.

If you don’t want to be disrupted… you need to be the disruptor… and that means becoming more intrapreneurial.

How to do it?
This all depends on your corporate strategy – what are you looking to achieve first? What are your priorities? Market share? Customer retention? Increased revenue?

The first thing to do is get somebody external in – someone with no vested interests or hidden agenda – someone with experience in the discipline.

A facilitated workshop of your senior leadership team will help to draw out the priorities. Yes, you will undoubtedly have a vision, mission and strategy. Intrapreneurship aligns itself to this but does not necessarily respect it.

This brings me to the last point… you say that you want to be innovative and intrapreneurial but it will take time and money and it will change the way you fundamentally operate – do you want the hassle? Is the prospect of being driven out of business a sufficient catalyst for you to do this?

Contact Neil for an informal chat about intrapreneurship and your organization.

Applying Intrapreneurship