A LinkedIn contributor predicted back in 2020 that 2021 will be the year of the intrapreneur, yet I never heard of the word until my Power Agenda interview with Aliah Davis-McHenry last month. She described the sense of pride that emerges when you take ownership of a project, from inception to completion to success. It was astonishingly refreshing to find a word that encapsulates what employees like myself want to do, have been doing, or never knew we could do outside of our traditional 9-to-5 responsibilities.
Its benefits are undeniable, as top company management are quickly assembling internal support teams to promote innovation from everyone within. Unfortunately, it took a Great Resignation, where millions around the country left their jobs for better opportunities, for many employers to realize their employees can and should be creating better opportunities right within the company. Of course, this isn’t feasible in every industry, but it’s important to know that it exists, what’s needed to make it work, and what others are already doing to move their businesses forward.
Intrapreneurship is often referred to as entrepreneurship within an established organization. Although the world needs entrepreneurs to get businesses started, it’s the innovators within existing companies that keep them alive and thriving. For employees, it’s a form of ownership without the cost of uncertainties when starting your own company. If done so correctly, it’s truly a win-win situation.
How Management Can Help
An article by Stanford titled, “How to Launch a Successful Intrapreneurship Program in your Organization“ succinctly lays out why and how companies can promote intrapreneurship. It explains that first, businesses must recognize the need to foster innovation from employees. Once that’s established, management leaders are encouraged to nominate those who could probably do it best.
They can also support employees not only financially but with resources including workshops to help professionals gain the soft skills they need to shine. Commit to making good ideas come to fruition. We've all experienced push-back when trying to implement something new, which is understandable to some degree. Companies have a lot to potentially lose if efforts of intrapreneurship backfire. This is when management should become strategic and transparent in how big they can scale a new endeavor.
But Does It Work?
Research in regard to the impact of intrapreneurship is fairly new, but it’s needed, as the 2022 Intraprensurshio and Innovation Report by The Cable Center, a Denver-based educational nonprofit, has proven. The success of the how popular Google's "20% rule" is a case study of how the company’s most popular products like Gmail was created after they encouraged employees to spend 20% of the weekly work hours on their own side projects. Cable Center’s report further highlights other highly reputable companies' experiences with some form of intrapreneurship. To grow and remain ready to adapt through adopting new ideas, companies like Ikea created Innovation and Co-Creation teams, while Nestle calls their initiative InGenius.
No matter how you name it, successful organizations know they need intrapreneurship and many employees are yearning for it. So, let’s make the year 2022 the year of intrapreneurship!