“Intrapreneurs are the dreamers who do. The ones that take on responsibility for creating innovation of any kind, within a business.” -Gifford Pinchot

  • In our increasingly rapidly changing creative business environment, being innovative is often more a matter of survival than competitiveness.
  • Organizations are employing more “outside the box” thinkers.
  • A new breed of collaborative leaders are celebrating inventive thinking.

The idea of intrapreneurship may be new to some, but it’s been around for many years. Developing a culture of intrapreneurial thinkers working in-house is like having a new business functioning within a business.

Thinking Through Growing From the Inside

  • Acquisitions can be risky, coming with many unknowns
  • Startups can renew enthusiasm though expensive
  • Growth can be safer and less costly in-house
  • Releasing effective creative thinkers in-house is transformational

Elizabeth Uviebinene noted, “Intrapreneurs are the people driving corporate change. Wise companies are encouraging creative staff to generate new and profitable ideas.”

How Intrapreneurship Benefits an Organization

“Highly creative people will naturally gravitate to consistently innovative organizations.” -JSP

“Intrapreneur” is the morphing of “internal” and “entrepreneur. Management consultants Gifford and Elizabeth Pinchot were among the first to use the phrase in a white paper in the late 1970s.

Organizations that encourage employee creativity tend to give space for new opportunities to develop in-house.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs developed a think tank for Apple’s most creative people, which led to the development of the iMac and Macintosh computers. The iPod, iPhone, and iPad result from Steve Jobs’ intrapreneurial insight allowing such innovative product development.

Frequent Amazon shoppers are familiar with their 1-click purchase button; that simple tool increased Amazon’s sales by 5%! Peri Hartman, an Amazon programmer, was searching for a way to a smoother seamless ordering system. Hartman’s idea was possible due to Amazon’s openness to intrapreneurship.

Below are just a few organizations that allowed their employees the freedom to explore and develop their ideas in-house.

  • Lockheed Martin 
  • Texas Instruments
  • Google
  • Shutterstock 

Unfortunately, many established organizations tend to favor the status quo. They confine themselves to their comfort zones because change can be too unsettling. However, organizations refusing to change will eventually lose their competitive edge or be forced to change by the mounting pressures of the business culture around them.

Developing an intrapreneurship culture

CEO Purvi Sheth says, “Intrapreneurship is effective in attracting and retaining talent. When individuals are given a chance to ideate, create and execute themselves, there is a lot more job satisfaction.”

To remain competitive, more organizations are taking a fresh look at an entrepreneurial approach “in-house.” Encouraging innovative thinking with a vision toward developing an Intrapreneurial culture will help them keep a competitive edge.

An intrapreneurial culture is a decidedly people-centric approach to business, allowing space for exploring and developing some radical innovative ideas in-house.

Some Considerations about Encouraging an Intrapreneurial Environment

  • A slow steady transition begins with recognizing intrapreneurial gifting within the personnel you already employ.
  • Learning a new managerial approach to handling intrapreneurial employees.
  • Understanding the creativity of intrapreneurial employees who, knowing the boundaries, tend to color outside the lines nonetheless.
  • Understanding how your people like to work
  • Learning what inspires them and what motivates them
  • Intrapreneurship pays off many times over in terms of company growth, culture, and talent.

“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.”- Peter F. Drucker

* Photo by John S Picarello