Richard Branson said “Many millions of people proudly claim the title ‘entrepreneur’. On the other hand, a title that hasn’t gotten nearly the amount of attention it deserves is entrepreneur’s little brother, the ‘intraprenuers in your organization’: ’employees who are given freedom and financial support to create new products, services and systems, who do not have to follow the company’s usual routines or protocols.'” While it’s true that every company needs an entrepreneur to get it under way, healthy growth requires a smattering of intrapreneurs who drive new projects and explore new and unexpected directions for business development.”
The American Heritage Dictionary defines an intrapreneur as:
A person within a large corporation who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product through assertive risk-taking and innovation.
How can you identify intrapreneurs in your organization and team?
In a HBR article, Vijay Govindarajan and Jatin Desai have noted certain characteristics that help in identifying the intrapreneurs around us.
- The Primary motivation for intrapreneurs is influence with freedom. They want to be rewarded fairly, but they are not motivated to perform for monetary benefits.
- They are constantly thinking about the future – what is next? Intraprenuers are highly engaged, very clear, and visibly consistent in their work and interactions.
- They are able to formulate and visualize a series of solutions in their head using the technique of Visual thinking (combination of brainstorming, mind mapping, and design thinking). They spend time allowing the solutions the required time and attention to develop and crystallize before sharing the same. Their concepts are rather futuristic and may not have been done before.
- They are able to turn the current strategic direction of the organization and take it to a different path. It sounds scary and unfathomable to most mature organizations, although it’s often what is needed to resuscitate a dying company. Steve Jobs pivoted Apple from being an education and hobby computer company to a consumer electronics company. Wipro of India pivoted from being a small vegetable oil manufacturer to a software-outsourcing powerhouse.
- They personally demonstrate the attributes of confidence and humility, not the maverick-like behavior often associated with successful corporate innovators.
In most organizations, the consolidated focus at the moment is on innovation and the intraprenuering is the way forward in this direction. When organizations support and enable intraprenuering, the employees feel like owners of their company and they are completely focused on bringing in the company’s vision for the future. Pinchot has noted that ”intrapreneurial activity increases the speed and cost-effectiveness of technology transfer from research and development to the marketplace.”
Intrapreneurial employees can provide a fantastic boost to your company’s bottom line. They not only are key drivers of innovation in your company bringing in revenue, but also increase the levels of motivation and empowerment among their fellow team members.
What are methods and tactics to develop intrapreneurs in your organization?
In order to foster intrapreneurship, all that is required is providing encouragement to the employees to develop new ideas, and then give them the time, liberty and wherewithal needed to turn those ideas into reality.
- In order to foster intraprenuership in your organization, the first step is to have a clear vision of where your company is headed and be able to convey the same in a to your staff. What is the current organizational position, what are the future goals, what is the position of the competitors, where is the industry at present and what are the exciting trends or products that are being developed in the larger industry.
- Make provision for your team to spend at least 15 percent of their work time on new ideas for products and services. This strategy will show that you encourage and support intrapreneurial spirit in people. This also serves at making your team more productive at their regular responsibilities as people tend to work harder on the things they really enjoy doing.
- Set up informal brainstorming sessions with your team to discuss new ideas. Creat a high-trust and informal enviroment where they feel encouraged and supported. When ideas are tabled, encourage others to figure out how to make it work better. When you find a suggestion that might be viable, ask the employee to fully research the idea. Then have the employee put it all on paper, clearly stating the goal, the steps needed to meet the goal, and the approximate timeline.
- Establish a rewards and recognition system in place. For most intrapreneurs, it is critical that they get recognition for their accomplishments and validation in front of peers and seniors. Setting up an incentive program will also be good for those who bring out and implement new ideas or better operational practices that save money.