The Untapped Potentials of an Intrapreneur

A team sitting around a table trying to inspire intrapreneurship

With the vast number of startups nipping at the heels of large and established corporations, it is safe to say that entrepreneurship is having a renaissance. Stories of successful startups abound—so much so that entrepreneurship is now a major at many business colleges. However, despite this upsurge in the number of successful business ventures, the majority of entrepreneurial people will not be able to see their business ideas come to fruition. Why? With all the risk involved in being an entrepreneur, not everyone can afford such a precarious life. And this is such a waste considering the fact that 93% of working adults in the US consider themselves entrepreneurial.

Luckily, there’s a way to use these qualities within businesses and organizations. The intrapreneur—or “inside entrepreneur”—taps into his entrepreneurial skills without the risk involved in being an entrepreneur. Instead of going it alone, an intrapreneur aligns his entrepreneurial energy with the goals of the business where he thrives.

What’s the Buzz Over Intrapreneurship?

What is intrapreneurship in the current business landscape? The word is being tossed around more often nowadays because companies need intrapreneurs to sustain the innovation that propelled their business during startup. Likewise, businesses need individuals who can execute ideas. The intrapreneur is a skilled driver who can lead the venture from start to finish.

Here’s are some inspirational examples of accomplished intrapreneurs:

Google’s 20% Time Programme

Google is tagged as the playground of intrapreneurs. Some of their best initiatives (Gmail, Google News, AdSense and Google Now) were results of their 20% Time Programme. This initiative allows Google engineers to spend 20% of their time on projects that interest them.

3M’s Genesis Grant

One of 3M’s most famous products—the Post-It note—was a result of the company’s intrapreneurial culture. The company allows its employees to allocate 15% of their time and spend it on projects they like for 3M. The management even funds these projects through the Genesis Grant.

DreamWorks’ Free Story Development Classes

DreamWorks believes in its employees and their ability to tell stories. Employees are offered free classes for story development and scriptwriting. These stories are then presented to the executive team to be considered as potential stories.

Intel’s New Business Initiative Program

Intel has always been run with innovation in its DNA. Through its New Business Initiative (NBI) program, employees are given a chance to develop and present new ideas. Intel provides funding and incubation for these new concepts.

Apple’s Intrapreneurship Culture

What is intrapreneurship without referring to Apple? The company’s intrapreneurship culture is highly publicized through its founder Steve Jobs. The Mac, iPod, iTunes, iPhone and iCloud—these are all results of a culture that supports innovation, passion, creativity, and motivation.

How to Inspire Intrapreneurship

A manager inspiring instrapreneurship

The creator of the word “Intrapreneur”—Gifford Pinchot III—described these kinds of employees as the “Dreamers who do. They are the ones who take hands-on responsibility for creating innovation of any kind, within a business.” One of the worst things an organization can do is to stifle this creative and innovative spirit, which leads us to the first step in inspiring intrapreneurship within your team.

Step 1: Establishing a structure that encourages creativity and innovation is vital. Recognize that ideas can come from all levels. Set up an organizational structure where employees can throw in ideas no matter where they are in the rung.

Step 2: Prioritize promoting healthy working relationships—be it peer-to-peer or employee-to-leaders. This encourages open communication at all levels.

Step 3: Create an inclusive, fun and diverse environment. Remember that ideas flow much easier when people are having fun.

Step 4: Empower employees to take part in building the success of the business. Encourage the intrapreneur in your ranks to go beyond their job description. Create and assign projects that are outside the normal daily responsibilities. Routinary thinking is a surefire way to kill creativity.

Go ahead and tap the intrapreneurial spirit among your ranks. It will work wonders on your team’s overall performance.

About the Author

Imee Rabang is a blogger/writer and bilingual poet from Manila, Philippines. She is an advocate of Philippine culture and supports causes that promote language and national identity. She juggles her time between work, parenthood, and community outreach programs. She also dabbles in photography and graphic arts in her free time.
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