Why encouraging intrapreneurship within your organisation and team can pay off

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An entrepreneur and an intrapreneur, sound very similar  as words but they have very different meanings. As a business leader, it’s important to appreciate the difference between the two in order to nurture your business and promote growth. 

Entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs have many common qualities. These include creative thinking, problem-solving and solution orientation, the ability to take risks to grab more opportunities, inquisitiveness, and a desire to achieve a goal or a vision. Moreover, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs are like engines that complete the journey to success while taking others along with them (except of course if you are the new owner of TwitterJ). The main difference however is that while intrapreneurs operate within the organization, entrepreneurs  tend to have some ownership of the organization. This article explores why intrapreneurship is important and also how to encourage intrapreneurship within your organisation.

Who is an intrapreneur

Intrapreneurs need support from their organization to flourish and achieve their goals. Intrapreneurs are those who apply their innovative ideas to new product development and turn the organisation’s vision into reality for the sake of the growth of the organization and receive a salary in turn. They act and work like entrepreneurs but within the boundaries of an organization. Intrapreneurs possess qualities and skills that are different from other employees. Their way of thinking and executing brings an exceptional change in the business. Following are some of the notable advantages of Intrapreneurship:

Intrapreneurs are individuals who take the initiative to innovate or turn an idea into a new product or service for their existing organization. They effectively act like entrepreneurs, but within a company. This is only possible in a culture where there is psychological safety.

Conditions for Intrapreneurship

Daniel Pink, in his book Drive, tried to break down motivation.

Pink introduced a model focused on intrinsic motivation – that is, using internal drivers to motivate an individual. He calls intrinsically motivated behaviour “Type I.” It contrasts with the traditional model of extrinsic motivation, or “Type X” behaviour, which focuses on motivating people through reward and punishment.

According to Pink’s book the three keys of intrinsic motivation are

  • AUTONOMY – “being able to self-govern”
  • MASTERY – “feeling like one has comprehensive knowledge or skill in a particular activity”
  • PURPOSE – “an individual’s reason for doing something- the why”

More recently there’s a lot of talk about a growth mindset and about creating an innovation culture within an organisation. Individuals who innovate or come up with new product or service ideas for the company are essentially the intrapreneurs who are creating an innovation culture. But this culture needs to be nurtured by the leader.

There are many benefits of intrapreneurship.

Benefits of Intrapreneurship

Enabler of growth and revenue

Intrapreneurship can help encourage innovation within the organization which in turn can help come up with new ways of producing products and services. This also allows the organization to fill market gaps, meet upcoming challenges and even enable exceptional service and to customers.

Can improve employee engagement and productivity

Intrapreneurship allows an individual to get creative with new products and engage in the ultimate goal of the company. This encourages engagement and in turn improves the productivity of employees and the organization. This also makes the job more interesting and meaningful for the employees. Additionally, when employees enjoy their work, they are also less likely to leave your organization. 

Can help attract high potential employees

There are talent scarcities in many fields today. Organizations that encourage Intrapreneurship can more easily attract innovators to make good use of their skills.

Inspiring examples of Intrapreneurship

A great example of the power of intrapreneurship is a little tool that everyone has used for brainstorming or reminders. Yes – the humble Post-It Note was invented by two 3M employees, one of whom had created a weak adhesive that he didn’t know how to use.  After he presented his idea to people throughout the organization, he sought out suggestions. His colleague hit upon the idea of using a new glue to keep his bookmark in place and the idea for the sticky notes was born.

Gmail is another great example of intrapreneurship. Paul Buchheit started his career in 1999 with Google. While working for over 4 years on the idea of providing a web-based email service that also provides a search engine, he finally launched Google’s Gmail on 1st April 2004. Today, Gmail has more than 1.5 billion active users globally. 

Many companies encourage innovative individuals to be more intrapreneurial within an organisation. Some examples of intrapreneurs who have risen to the top include Satya Nadella and Sundar Pichai.

Satya Nadella has led great projects at Microsoft as an employee. One of his greatest achievements includes the development of the world’s largest cloud infrastructure. He is also known to have enabled Microsoft’s Database, Developer’s tools and Windows server. As a result, the revenue from cloud services grew to $20.3 billion by June 2013. In 2014, he was announced as the new CEO of Microsoft. 

Sundar Pichai was employed by Google in 2004 where he led the project for Google’s client software products which includes Google Chrome and ChromeOS. After demonstrating Chromebook which was released for trial in 2009 and then released publicly in 2012, he added Android phones to the list of Google products in 2013. In 2015, he was appointed as the next CEO of Google. 

The Bottom line

There is no intrapreneurship without a feeling of engagement with the organisation and the feeling of psychological safety. Bricoleur Consulting is here to provide you employee insight and consulting to help build team engagement that in turn can encourage breakthrough intrapreneurship.

Do share your views on Intrapreneurship in the comments section.

Setting of Goals

To set business goals entrepreneurs stick to their vision and ability to identify what is trending in the market. And then they set their goals accordingly. On the other hand, an intrapreneur’s strategy to set business goals can be affected by the vision of the organization and senior leaders.  Also, as an employee, intrapreneurs get continuous guidance from managers which helps them to stick to the path of success. On the other hand, an entrepreneur is completely free to make decisions. This makes an entrepreneur more vulnerable to loss and risks associated with business.

Risk of failure

Being an independent entrepreneur means you are always at risk of losing everything you have invested. The worst part is that entrepreneurs are responsible for their failure entirely, they have nobody to blame. On the other side, intrapreneurs are employed by an organization and during the failure of any idea or product, their monthly salary remains unaffected, however, it may affect their career and professional reputation.  Moreover, most entrepreneurs fail in their initial stage but that is just a subtle path to achieving their eventual goal. While intrapreneurs work under a team of an existing organization that is thriving in the market for many years. Thus, this gives intrapreneurs more room to experiment with their creative ideas. 

Resources availability

To set up or promote the business entrepreneurs have to rely on their network and investors (if any) to make the path to success. On the other side, an intrapreneur gets full access to the company’s insights, previous market data, and other resources that already exist within the company. It gives them a clear idea of what is beneficial for the company and what is not.  Entrepreneurs are entirely vulnerable when they start a new business, putting them under great pressure. Whereas intrapreneurs do not face such situations as they get complete guidance and assistance from experienced managers. Hence, they do not face any financial downfall regardless of the success of the products or services. 

Funds generation

In the initial stage of any start-up, entrepreneurs have to face a lot of difficulty in generating funds for their business. And also they are at higher risk of failure of a business plan that puts them in debt. But that is not the case with intrapreneurs, since they work with an existing organization, so they get funds easily if it’s required by the company.  Also, there are higher chances of failure of any start-up due to the lack of funds unlike in intrapreneurship. 

Similarities between Intrapreneurs and Entrepreneurs

While intrapreneurs differ from entrepreneurs in many aspects of business, they do have some similarities. The characteristics that are similar between Intrapreneurs and Entrepreneurs are as follows:

Creativity

Creativity is a crucial part of life for both intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs. They seek creativity all the time, be it the development of new products or the promotion of the business and services. Creativity is always required in order to bolster the growth and success of the product. 

Leadership

An entrepreneur is the boss of the organization and leads his/her team to produce goods and services that generate revenue. Similarly, an intrapreneur also leads a team and provides guidance for product development. He/she also makes sure that the team fulfils the company’s objective in a way that supports the overall growth of the business. 

Optimistic

Intrapreneurs always find a way to bring the best out of the worst. They are very clear about what needs to be done and when without wasting time thinking about the consequences. However, they also make sure that a solid backup plan is ready in case things don’t go the way they are supposed to. 

Flexibility

In today’s world, time flies, and technology also changes rapidly. Hence, an intrapreneur has to be very flexible, so that he/she can quickly adjust according to new marketing trends. Flexibility is not only crucial for the survival of an intrapreneur but is also important for the benefit of the company.

Problem-solving

While leading a team and being responsible for the development of services and products, problems do arise. Therefore, an intrapreneur needs to come up with effective and sensible solutions to every problem in order to make the product succeed in the market and stand ahead in this fierce competition.