4 things to help intrapreneurship flourish

Intrapreneur – it’s a funny term that pops up from time to time which I’ve always liked. It describe what it sounds like – someone who acts like an entrepreneur within an organisation. More importantly, it continues to be something you find at many progressive organizations with a culture that encourages and supports innovation, creativity and provides ownership to its staff. But what typifies an intrapreneur and what are the conditions which lead to them appearing in an organisation?

Most importantly, how do you cultivate a culture that leads to more people becoming intrapreneurial? I’ve outlined a few thoughts below. I’d love to hear yours to. Let me know what you think!

1. Openness

This is the big one. By it, I don’t mean transparency, which is something people sometimes get confused with and has become a very buzz word.

An open organisation is a place where you can find out all the information, including the context surrounding that, you need to get your job done. This leads to a level of oversharing taking place, from the top levels of an organization down to the most junior staff.

Organizations that are open, tend to have a higher number of people that have intrapreneurial traits, because people can choose to own projects and initiatives that make strategic sense as well as manage their Business As Usual tasks.

2. Ownership

This is directly related to Openness. When companies are open, they provide everyone the chance to get involved in projects where they have the expertise and skills to provide value in a powerful way. They give people the chance to won their work.

Working at Yammer, these two traits are core values of ours and it pervades everything we do. If you see something (via openness) that you can add value too, then it’s up to you to either get involved or add what you can (take ownership).

3. Part of a good team

Entrepreneurship is not an individual endeavor. When you’re starting up, you’re working with co-founders, early customers and suppliers to survive. Intrapreneurs are no different. You need to build and cultivate a great team.

Within an organisation, projects live and die by how many people have decided to participate and contribute to it. How well you recruit people to your cause and respect their spare cognitive surplus is crucial to being successful.

4. Relentlessness

Intrapreneurs are relentless. They’re probably pursuing long term goals and organisational change by pushing a very big flywheel. That change takes time, patience and a relentless attitude to get things moving when the flywheel has little or no momentum.

2 thoughts on “4 things to help intrapreneurship flourish

  1. Nice one Steve. Hard to be definitive around organisational traits required to help intrapreneurship thrive.  There’s a few additional traits that are front of mind.  How about Trust? Trusting your people and giving them the freedom, resources and responsibility (ownership) to do, enabling intrapreneurship. Tolerance of failure, as long as you learn from your failures. Willingness to take risks, not crazy risks but calculated ones. I reckon intrapreneurship and Social Biz, are pretty closely aligned.  Increase the number and depth of interaction and relationships to accelerate collaboration.

    1. Some great points, Paul! Thanks for your contribution. I totally agree – trust is a crucial ingredient when you have other cultural traits like openness and ownership. 

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