The Intrapreneurship Alternative: Innovating from Within

Innovation...


Intrapreneurship can have many meanings — you can’t even successfully run spell check on the word. However, intrapreneurship can lead to amazing results in product and procedural development within a company or corporation. Intrapreneurship is meant to encourage employees in developing their own ideas, innovations, and techniques into solid plans of action that benefit the companies they work for. Corporations, partnerships, associations, and non-profit organizations are all able to benefit from intrapreneurship.

Though it may be easier to launch a product or service when backed by a corporation, intrapreneurship is still a lot of work. In addition, there are no guarantees that you will be successful. Being tied to the corporate entity you work for can also create a fear of failing due to job security. Here are a few tips to guide you down the path of successful intrapreneurship.

Intrapreneurship is Not About the Fluff

Do not spend excessive amounts of time trying to make your project seem bigger than it is. An intrapreneurship is in essence a startup within another company. You don’t need secret code names and plush offices to be successful. What is important is assembling a team of qualified individuals that have the necessary qualities and skills to get the process rolling. When starting an intrapreneurship within your company, you should realize that the head honchos want to see results, and they want to see them quickly. Your team should be able and ready to move fast, communicate effectively, and provide those necessary results. Who cares if everybody has an iPad to take meeting notes?

Your Intrapreneurship is Not a Clandestine Operation

Do not worry about co-workers discovering your intrapreneurship. They will probably find out about it anyway somewhere down the line. You may even find that your co-workers have ideas to help you promote your intrapreneurship. They may just be the missing link your current intrapreneurship team is missing.

Take Advantage of Company Assets

The biggest benefits of intrapreneurship are the financial, marketing, and production assets your company already possesses. Successfully selling your intrapreneurship idea to management can lead to a windfall of development support. Not only will you have the finances to create your product or service, you will also have the ability to cross-market advertise with your companies already successful ventures, unlike bootstrapping a new startup with your own credit cards and having to come out of pocket for all your own advertising expenses.

Your Intrapreneurship Initiative Should Move Quickly

In order to succeed in your intrapreneurial venture you are going to have to get to market fast. Of course, this does not mean you should forget about investigating whether your product or service is even marketable. It only means you need to justify its marketability efficiently. Run test ads on your company website. Check demographic information quickly with Quantcast or another similar tool. The trick is knowing you have a marketable product or service and creating it fast. And don’t forget to develop with scalability and future growth in mind.

Collect Your Intrapreneurial Winnings

Many believe that there are fewer benefits from intrapreneurship when compared to entrepreneurship. They fail to realize that with entrepreneurship, you are normally running yourself rampant working 60-80 hour work weeks for little to no pay just keep the enterprise afloat. With intrapreneurship, you get to focus more on product development and implementation. The important administrative, IT, and back-office demands are handled by the company you work for. In addition, if the product goes bust, you are not out of house and home.

Creating Successful Intrapreneurship Programs within Your Company

Throughout the world there are some very exciting programs that intrapreneurs are participating in. This has a lot to do with today’s forward thinking organizations actually providing time for intrapreneurship to the employees within their company. They know and understand the benefits that come from providing their employees with this time, allowing them to come up with new ideas for the organization. Of course, all of these programs vary widely in their scope, structure, and in what incentives they offer to the employee.

In order for an intrapreneurship program to be successful, the intrapreneur is going to have to overcome the organization’s formal structure, as well as any internal roadblocks. They must be able to deal with the slow moving bureaucracy that they will surely encounter along the way. The intrapreneur must be able to convince the middle and senior management within their organization that there is indeed a strong and profitable market for their new idea or product. In addition, the idea must also be synergistic to the company’s goals and mission.

Ideas That Encourage Intrapreneurship within Your Company

  • Make sure people are not afraid to fail. This fear will kill any and all possible innovation.
  • Create an in-house team to track the competition. You might even need several teams. You will want to focus on single products.
  • Hire an independent consultant to track competition on a regular basis. He will be objective and to the point, not marred by corporate bias or fear of reprisal. After all, his goal is to push people not to become complacent.
  • Continually ask people what products or services your company could be providing that would be helpful.
  • Have people from different departments work with one another to come up with new products and ideas that are consistent with your business’ purpose, values, and vision.
  • Create regular customers based focus group in order to collect consumer opinion on products that are already on the market, as well as those that your business could provide.
  • If your business has a website make sure that there is a suggestion box or comment form. Offer prizes to those who give the best feedback and ideas.
  • Try to create at least one collaborative venture with another company.
  • Ask your employees to openly discuss what they think your company does well and where improvements can be made. Have them talk about what changes they would make, then try to implement these changes as soon as possible.
  • Form a list of objectives and performance standards that can be used for innovation. For example, have each of your managers come up with monthly ideas that will add value to your company.
  • Create an in-house venture capital pool. Have people submit ideas and plans to it.
  • Create an in-house “genius grant”.
  • Allow people to have some time to have fun. This is the type of environment where people will want to work and wherein they will be able to flourish. (i.e. Google)
  • Create a class for your employees to help them learn more about creative thinking.

Conclusion

Being a successful intrapreneur requires a lot more than creativity. You need to be a risk-taker as you share and push your new ideas or products. You will need to be patient as you wait for your company’s senior management team to approve and launch your initiatives. No matter what seems to be happening with your projects, you need to be willing to hang in there and ride out any adversity that comes and tries to take your hopes and dreams and crush them.

There are many ways to break the barrier that stands between you and intrapreneurial success. However, there is only one point that certainly causes failure. That point is lack of action. If you are not willing to do what is required for the duration, you will not be able to successfully break into the intrapreneurial world.

(Image courtesy of Seth1492 under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 generic license.)


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Joshua Riddle from www.JoshRiddle.com and www.NorcalTechSolutions.com is a freelance web developer and contributing author. His writing specializes in time management, productivity strategies, technology based tutorials, and work-flow. His development specialties are Web 2.0 style interactive PHP / MySQL database applications.
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Discussion

  1. Rafal on the 7th February

    Really enjoyed reading this.
    Many people think that stable corporate job is about slow moving progress from one level to the other on the ladder. That it’s about just showing up, doing your little thing and going home.
    To me it’s pretty clear that more and more companies don’t want that. There is a quite noticeable trend in letting people try to run with their ideas. Google’s 20% own time is the prime example.

    Guy’s Kawasaki “Art of the start” has a great chapter for people wanting to be intrapreneurs.
    The key takeaway is to make it clear to management that you work for the company’s best interest not to demolish it from the inside.

    Thanks
    Rafal

  2. Dr Howard Edward Haller on the 11th March

    Thanks for the good information on Intrapreneurship.
    “Intrapreneurship is the Secret Weapon for Success” quote from Dr Haller’s book

    Here is an addition Intrapreneurship resource for your readers:
    “Intrapreneurship Success: A PR1ME Example” –Case Study

    This work was the first academic case study of Intrapreneurship which was published back in 1982 by the University of Redlands, School of Business, as a Master’s in Management -Thesis by Howard Edward Haller.

    This 1st Academic Case Study of Intrapreneurship was published academic book in 2009, based on Haller’s 1982 University of Redlands, Master’s in Management -Thesis:
    “Intrapreneurship Success: A PR1ME Example” which tells the inside story of how a small OTC listed firm successfully used Intrapreneurship to become the #1 performing stock on the NYSE in less than 5 years, was published as an Academic Book in 2009, by: VDM Verlag Dr Müller AG & CoKG

    Howard Edward Haller, Ph.D. –
    CEO http://www.IntrapreneurshipInstitute.com (Blog Readers- for Fr*ee information on Intrapreneurship Case Studies visit our website)

  3. Jason Horowitz on the 2nd August

    Great post. I would strongly recommend a recently published book by Kevin Desouza on Intrapreneurship. http://www.amazon.com/Intrapreneurship-Managing-Organization-Rotman-UTP-Publishing/dp/1442641436/

    It does a wonderful job of outlining a simple process that anyone can follow to manage ideas within one’s company.

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