Flavor of IntrapreneurshipIn my work with intrapreneurs, ranging from defining the best kind of environment to work within (ecosystem) through to each individual troublemaker, there tends to be two ways to go: Covert Intrapreneurship or Sanctioned Intrapreneurship.

I accept that things are rarely black and white, but when I profile an organization to work with, it’s useful to know who likes to live below the radar and who flourishes better in a structured program.

Covert Intrapreneurs are everywhere
The covert intrapreneur is one of those people that cause a quiet exasperation as ‘normal’ employees focus on delivering their KPIs and no more than that – and they see this non-conformist employee not only just managing to ‘do their job’ but seem to be chasing projects outside of their job description.

These people, in their reviews, will be achieving the minimum but then seem distracted, working off-plan, over-stepping their boundaries. If only they would invest this energy into the targets set for them by their manager!

Now, when the covert intrapreneur succeeds in transforming an idea into something valuable (e.g. revenue), then all is forgiven (momentarily).

The issue is that intrapreneurs fail. A lot. And rightly so – the intrapreneur is pushing boundaries and seeking to develop ‘the different’ – something that gains market share, beats competitors, delights customers, motivates colleagues, makes money… hey, the remit of the intrapreneur (declared, or otherwise) is broad and is destined to fail along the way.

I have met with and interviewed covert intrapreneurs who have taken as long as three years to gain some general acceptance of what they are trying to do. It’s easy to do a quick search and trawl out details about Jobs, Edison, Gates, et al but intrapreneurship is an employee-led initiative (the ideas bubble up through the management strata to achieve executive prominence) and so it’s a question of employees accepting intrapreneurs as much as the managers and leaders should.
Covert Intrapreneur
Covert intrapreneurs should be emulated
The covert intrapreneur does not have the necessary approval of senior management and so this means that their emotional intelligence and communication skills are of paramount importance. Add to this, they will be securing resources (including people) from outside of their direct area of responsibility (and, as they may well not be at a management grade, they cannot instruct people through hierarchy) and so they need to convey their enthusiasm for the intrapreneurial adventure – and to show people “what’s in it for you”.

Added to these soft skills would be the ability to partner, motivate and enthuse – laudable traits that help to develop a team culture that runs cross-department as well as cross-organization as the intrapreneur builds communities that go beyond the boundaries of the business.

There is no real right and wrong between being a covert intrapreneur or one within a sanctioned environment – the only wrong thing would be not to have any in the business at all.

Contact me for an informal chat about intrapreneurship.

Flavors of intrapreneurship