Transformative Intrapreneurship

The game-changing concept of Intrapreneurship

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INTRAPRENEURSHIP IS A GAME-CHANGING concept that can be performed by organizations of all types and sizes. I have witnessed how intrapreneurship transforms employees into imaginative problem-solvers and watched intrapreneurs commercialize proposed problem- solving solutions into new products and unique service offerings.

AUTHOR: David Whitney is the LEADX3M Fellow in Innovation and Intrapreneurship, actively engaged in delivering the groundbreaking LEADX3M Driven Business Transformation (DBT) - Intrapreneurship program to medium sized and large firms in US and internationally. For a full review of his profile, please visit the Fellows page and scroll down to his bio. 

Intrapreneurs, when trained properly and managed correctly, develop the skills to correctly identify problems. Intrapreneurs then apply the tools and techniques of intrapreneurship to solve problems in creative and imaginative ways. To be successful, intrapreneurs need the freedom to practice entrepreneurship – which is often synonymous with missteps and failures –

with the organization’s existing framework and then they must be given the autonomy to leverage available resources, procedures, processes and systems. When able to do so, intrapreneurs push the organization to achieve heightened levels of business competitiveness and fuel an innovation engine that brings more commercially viable products and services to market.

I enjoy reading what other subject matter experts have to say about intrapreneurship. One such expert is Anthony Ferrier. Ferrier is an author, speaker and advisor. The accompanying list contains strategies intrapreneurs’ problem-solving ideas can be conceived, built, tested, improved and launched in timely fashion.

COMMUNICATION: Intrapreneurial activities can draw skepticism from the organization’s rank-and-file. To dispel these doubts, deliver a clear and consistent message detailing how intrapreneurship benefits the organization by producing measurable and repeatable value. The maxim “what gets measured, gets managed” is a key element of an organization’s intrapreneurial activities. That is why organizational leadership must clearly define what outcomes are expected by employees toiling away as intrapreneurs. In my opinion, the most effective and valuable measures in monitoring the effectiveness and success of intrapreneurship are:

  • increased sales revenues
  • expansion of commercially-viable products

and service offerings

  • strengthening of organizational culture
  • improvements in operational efficiency and

financial performance

  • achievement of the organization’s key

performance indicators

  • advancement in employees’ personal

development and professional growth

By managing these measures, leadership demonstrates it is serious about operating successful intrapreneurial programs. This is because successful intrapreneurship produces organization-wide value. In my experience, both as a participant and architect of intrapreneurial programs, the more successful ones are those that stress practicality and action.

The better intrapreneurial programs are those having an educational component. That is, intrapreneurs are taught methods and practices that help them achieve continuous improvement. I designed and taught a five- step educational framework that features learning modules and interactive workshops. Participants apply what they learn in the modules and workshops in order to meet and exceed the organization’s key performance indicators. The intrapreneurial programs I found to be most effective are taught both on-site and online using learning modules, interactive workshops and immersive sessions. The educational framework that has been most effective and successful in teaching and approaches he suggests organizations use to improve the effectiveness of intrapreneurial activities.

TRAINING: Intrapreneurs require a different set of skills than many organizations have traditionally considered or actively supported. Skills required involve problem identification, ideation, organizational priorities and the types and amounts of resources that are available to intrapreneurs.

INCENTIVES: Incentives that align with intrapreneurial thinking often do align with corporate priorities and drive behavioral change.

SUPPORT: Many intrapreneurs do not “think or act like everyone else” which can lead to them feeling isolated in the organization and disengaged from colleagues. This is why it is important to have support systems that promote collaborate, engagement and inclusion.

COLLABORATION: To produce successful intrapreneurial outcomes, collaboration across functions is critical and needs to be performed consistently and continuously.

CHANNELS & PROCESSES: Organizations must have in place the right systems so that

intrapreneurship contains the following topics. These topics are best taught as a collection of learning modules, interactive workshops and online sessions:

  1. Employee’s Professional Development and Personal Growth: “Why Saying ‘No’ is a
  2. ‘YES!’ to Professional and Personal Success.”
  3. Effective Communication: Creating and delivering compelling presentations, communicating winning sales messages and writing “sticky” e-mails and other forms of actionable communications.
  4. Innovation Applied: Expanding and extending the organization’s product lines and service offering using Systematic Inventive Innovation methods.
  5. Solutions-based Creativity: Applying best practices in identifying and solving problems using proven innovation concepts and problem-solving techniques.
  6. Intrapreneurship: Leveraging the organization’s operational strengths by creating and managing internal teams; these teams are tasked with generating sustainable, profitable growth models. 

Most organizational leadership relates to these topics. The five topics listed align to operational disciplines and business activities found in most organizations. The topics include innovation, operations, leadership, sales and business development, customer service, financial performance and intrapreneurship.

Intrapreneurs change the way many organizations operate in today’s increasingly competitive global economy. Intrapreneurs can enhance productivity, extend product lines and service offerings, produce new revenue streams – or energize revenue streams in need of a jolt. Intrapreneurs can conceive, test, launch, improve and operate new business models – whether it is in established industries or in nascent ones. And what I feel is an extremely valuable outcome, intrapreneurs can become the next generation of leaders and innovators inside their organizations.

For this to occur, organizations should allow their employees time to work on innovative projects as intrapreneurs. Doing so accelerates the commercialization of innovations while promoting a virtuous cycle in which intrapreneurs attract and encourage other like-minded creative problem-solving colleagues to collaborate with them in intrapreneurial activities that propel the organization to new heights.

Article originally published in August 2018:

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