Powered by Intrapreneurship

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Unleash the power and potential of entrepreneurial energy inside your organization.

Most of what I write about is from an entrepreneur’s perspective, so many readers might tend to think that my only audience is other entrepreneurs. That is only partly true. The topics that I write about contain transferable principles that can be applied in any environment. But for those of you who work for an organization and still feel left out, this article is just for you.

Entrepreneurs don't just exist in small businesses. There are many people in the workforce who possess the skills and mindset of an entrepreneur, but don’t desire to deal with the challenges, issues, and difficulties of running their own enterprise. These are very talented employees who often seem out of place, because their personality profiles and work styles are at odds with the types of job assignments they are given. I call these people “intrapreneurs.”

What is an intrapreneur? The best definition that I have found is, “A person who focuses on innovation and creativity and who transforms a dream or an idea into a profitable venture, by operating within the organizational environment.” One of the reasons why I like this definition is that it closely aligns with one of the topics that I’ve been writing about recently, “visioneering.” In fact, I would say that intrapreneurs are visioneers.

Some key characteristics that intrapreneurs possess include:

  • Entrepreneurial thinking – Able to see what “can be.” Focus on finding solutions not complaining about problems. Inspired by obstacles. Use creative means to generate new ideas to solve old problems.

  • Visionary leadership – Help others see beyond their typical point of view and go further than they would have on their own. Leverage relationships effectively with those outside of own department to successfully complete projects. Able to navigate through the political potholes to get things accomplished.

  • Passion – When they are truly committed to something, they don’t settle for no. Their energy is infectious... or obnoxious, depending on the type of culture they work in.

  • Change catalyst – Always look to capitalize on opportunities for improvement. Favorite question is “why not?” Drive change by connecting people and simplifying processes.

  • Value generator – Build bridges between theory and practicality. Resourceful ability to utilize limited resources to achieve significant results. Understand key business fundamentals and how to apply solutions that help organizations make money or save money.

Today's workforce consists of many unsatisfied employees who are very frustrated in jobs that are routine, mundane, and unchallenging. They need to be given opportunities that will engage their imaginations, stretch their skills sets, and catalyze their creativity. Intrapreneurship is one way of doing this.

Similar to entrepreneurs, intrapreneus conceive great things and are effective at moving people toward their vision. They bring their vision to life with their ability to marshal the right resources at the right time to produce meaningful results. Often, they create new business models or different ways of doing things that result in innovative opportunities for the organization.

They are pioneers with no blueprint to follow. They can take ideas and concepts from diverse unrelated subjects and topics and integrate them into their own area in ways that move the organization forward in new directions. In the process, they can knowingly or unknowingly forge new career paths for themselves.

There may be many of you who are reading this, saying, “Yes! This is who I am!” But before you run out and tell your boss your new revelation, there are some critical aspects of intrapreneurship that you need to consider. Intrapreneurs have to be very careful in how they navigate through the corporate culture. If they are in a very conservative culture, they will either draw people or repel them. They will draw those who see things the way they do and desire change. They will repel those who are either adverse to change or are satisfied with the status quo.

Intrepreneurs are a rare breed in many organizations, so if they don’t handle themselves well, they can become outcasts. Many of their character traits, which would be celebrated if they were entrepreneurs, are sometimes not appreciated or understood in an organizational environment. Since they are just "employees", they at times can be viewed as impatient, impractical, ungrounded, arrogant, or overly aggressive.

I can relate to many of you who have experienced this in the past or who may be experiencing it right now. During my previous career at a Fortune 200 company, my entrepreneurial drive and energy were often squashed in the conservative culture in which I worked. I was often frustrated at the lack of desire of many employees and managers to even engage in conversations to explore new and better ways of doing things. There was an institutional arrogance that seemed to reject creativity and innovation, especially if it originated from sources outside of the organization. This was one of the key reasons why I left that company to start my own enterprise.

So how does an employee who may not be quite ready to become an entrepreneur, successfully transition into a career path that is more in line with their personality profile or work style? I’m glad you asked. In a future posting I will discuss how you can make a transition to becoming a successful and satisfied intrapreneur.

Empowering Champions,
Paul Wilson, Jr.

Intrapreneurship Resources
2. “Intrapreneur or Entrepreneur? Should I Stay or Should I Go?” by Andrew J. Birol
3. “Intrapreneur Exodus”

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2 Responses to "Powered by Intrapreneurship"

  1. Henrico Dolfing Says:
  2. Nice post! Looking forward to your post about how you can make the transition to becoming a successful and satisfied intrapreneur. I wrote some things about this topic on my blog "Being an intrapreneur" and I'm curious about your opinion towards becoming an intrapreneur.
  3. DreamCatalyst Says:
  4. Henrico, I just posted a new entry about how to become a mission driven intrapreneur. Here's the link: Enjoy!