The Inner side of Intrapreneurship Series
I still remember that day 12 years ago, when the team was in that meeting room waiting for the announcement “the project will stop here”. We all had some mixed feelings of nostalgia and frustration, but at the same time, we were proud of our achievements.
In 3 years, we had developed a new offer from scratch, we built a disruptive model of services within Hardware Company. We succeeded in creating a network of distributors which enabled us to launch and sold the product in 4 countries and at the end, we had more than 100K subscribers and overall we had a strong and great team.
Following 3 years of hard work, the management decided to stop this venture. That, the core of the offer will be integrated within the business line offers.
We were one of the first teams to participate in an “internal incubator program”. After this wonderful experience, we still have coffee over time to time to catch up on our new adventures. All team members were reassigned to a new role and just recently 2 of them have started their own business. For my side, I on-boarded on a new internal venture.
Today I have more than 20 years experience launching multiple intrapreneurial projects across different markets and exchanging with other intrapreneurs, I learned that the path of launching a new business within an existing company could be very complex, failures and successes are a source of valuable learnings, including people talents, strategies combined with the energy we put in each project.
All these experiences are waiting to be shared. So, I am starting these series to explore the inner side of intrapreneurship.
In these series, we will find some common ground and differences. We will also talk about how some “intrapreneurs” tap into the deepest aspect of their emotional intelligence, we will exchange on the ability to influence organization and people around to adapt to the new business environment.
In addition to that, we will discuss how some intrapreneurs embrace unique paradigms, the challenges faced by companies seeking to grow via corporate entrepreneurship, and recognize the constraints and obstacles to overcome when you are an intrapreneur.
You will find some new ideas, tools, and learnings. Get some inspiration if you want to become an intrapreneur, learn some keys if you are looking to hire an intrapreneur, and discover valuable tools if you are in the middle of a project and struggling to make it happen.
I hope, you enjoy these series as much as I enjoy sharing experiences!
What is INTRAPRENEURSHIP?
Intrapreneurship is all about innovation but not only. Digital transformation, new technologies, and environmental impact are at the heart of most company discussions. We are looking at how to accelerate innovation to develop the next big step, to keep relevant in this competitive world and even how to disrupt our own business. We are looking for social change and impact.
For doing so, we must tap into the art of implementing and inventing new business, products, services or processes that go beyond “technology”. As there is a profound impact on a firm’s performance and competitive advantage, this requires a team of qualified, engaged and available people that know how to leverage the corporate structure, to learn from the market, adapt, modify and execute as necessary.
Pinchot 1978 defined intrapreneurs as the “dreamers who do”. Most of us have experienced that making dreams happen is not easy, intrapreneurship is a complex combination of multiple elements and these elements are not always the same. They depend on the organization, the environment, the team, and the project.
Some remarkable examples of companies known to be intrapreneur friendly include 3M, Facebook, and Google. 3M with its Post-it note born as an internal project. You may be a user of Gmail, which grew out of Google 20% time “policy” or the Facebook “Like button that was built during one of the company’s hackathons.
But did you know that one of the first examples of intrapreneurship was 1943 when a team named the “Skunk Works” group at Lockheed Martin was first brought together to build the P-80 fighter jet?
The history of the term “intrapreneurship” remains a debate. In 1978, Gifford Pinchot III and Elizabeth Pinchot used the word in their paper “Intra-Corporate Entrepreneurship,” and again in their 1985 book “Intrapreneuring.” They highlighted that companies to grow and prosper in a rapidly changing society and economy need entrepreneurship thinking within a company, and most of us would still agree with them.
After reviewing some of these definitions, we find that beyond the multiples dimensions, Intrapreneurship is about creating value with new products, new services new ways of running businesses, and with several assets and resources within a company or organization.
“Increased consensus has been attained on the concept of entrepreneurship as the process of uncovering and developing an opportunity to create value through innovation and seizing that opportunity without regard to either resources or the location of the entrepreneur in a new or existing company” Churchill 1992.
As Intrapreneurship is trying to create change within the established system “company, the organization”, intrapreneurs must understand how to navigate that system. The dilemma is not only about resources or getting sponsorship, but also how to create flexibility and make things happen in a rigid system. As in big companies, you don’t have the freedom, MIT professor Eric von Hippel said “, is that there are “antibodies” against a new model of work.
“We believe that entrepreneurship is a way of creating value with new products, new ways of running businesses, and with a number of assets that you control. But also assets that you don’t control. So entrepreneurs can exist in corporations, and corporations need them more and more.” Eric Von Hippel, MIT professor
What Is Your Own Definition Of Intrapreneurship?
Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.