In·tra·pre·neur, (intrəprəˈnər,-ˈno͝or), noun. An employee who is both willing and able to develop and implement innovative solutions, thereby adding surprising value to some or all of the organization’s stakeholders.
The term “entrepreneurship” has come to mean more than just the business acumen required to turn an idea into an enterprise. Within an organization, the term is known as “intrapreneurship”, and it describes a skill and mind-set characterized by innovation, creativity, calculated risk-taking, and an empowered staff. The term applies to individuals, teams, and entire organizational cultures. “Intrapreneurs” are, in essence, internal entrepreneurs whose innovative ideas can help your company grow by launching new lines of business.
Where to find the potential intrapreneurs in your organization
Your most engaged employees are where to start looking. A Forbes article demonstrates the different levels and values of employee engagement and how they impact your enterprise:
The major factor differentiating an “Intrapreneur” or “Engaged” employee from a “Not Engaged” or “Actively Disengaged” employee is clearly a question of personality. As the chart indicates, truly engaged employees have a positive mindset and are more emotionally involved with their jobs, more aware of the importance of contributing to their companies’ success, and more willing to work as both leaders and team players.
Engaged employees are sharers; they’re aware of the talents that surround them, and are willing to include others in their success. They naturally develop strong relationships with other colleagues, while less engaged employees tend to isolate themselves. Because engaged employees enjoy doing what they do, they’re more likely to make every effort to foster innovation and improvement from within.
The keys to fueling the growth of an intrapreneurial culture
“Moving your people from engaged to intrapreneur requires two things: 1) building the skills that increase their intrapreneurial capacity; and, 2) changing key factors in the organization itself to create a more favorable environment for innovation”, says author Larry Myler.
Here’s how to accomplish that:
- Locate the most entrepreneurial employees within your ranks…
- Give them the time and training to innovate outside their current role
- Free them from the chain of command (nothing kills the innovative spirit like bureaucracy)
- Enable your intrapreneurials to take risks and even fail
- Recognize and reward intrapreneurial behavior, ideas, and successes
Intrapreneurship is today’s most powerful tool for business growth
In order to harness the power of intrapreneurship, communication is fundamental. Business leaders must strive to create an open, transparent work environment where information flows freely – not just down to the employees, but up to the C-Suite.
The benefits that intrapreneurs bring to companies are already evident: they’re developing new ways of working from creating new collaborative processes to using empathy and human-centered design to increase sales. They’re helping employees feel that there’s valuable, recognized meaning in their work.