Right now entrepreneurship is flashy, but have you ever heard of an intrapreneur? If you haven’t, keep reading – this might sound like you! Although there is some debate over the term’s origins, it is widely believed to have been coined in 1978 by Gifford Pinchot III in his paper “Intra-Corporate Entrepreneurship.”
Despite its antiquated roots, intrapreneurship has only risen to popularity within the business world over the past 10 years; as its name suggests, an intrapreneur is an employee within a business or corporation that thinks and acts like an entrepreneur. Skills like problem-solving, organization, critical thinking and creativity enable intrapreneurs to bring about positive and profitable change within their respective organizations.
Here’s an analogy: imagine you’re part of a company that specializes in the manufacturing of wooden kayaks called Smith & Sons. The business is family-owned and has been supplying a popular waterfront town with beautifully made classic wooden kayaks for decades. All of a sudden, a brand new business opens up across the street that uses plastic to produce brightly colored, lightweight kayaks.
Although it’s not friendly to our environment, the use of cheap, readily-available materials like plastic are consistently being favoured over quality materials like wood and steel. The leadership team at Smith & Sons might try to mitigate a potential loss of business by assembling a small internal venture that produces plastic kayaks.
Sounds like a great plan, right?
In the case that the plastic kayaks really take off, Smith & Sons can always scale up the small assemblage of workers. The idea here is that in today’s volatile marketplace, adaptability is essential. You shouldn’t be so devoted to your business model that you aren’t able to accommodate the changing desires and interests of consumers.
That’s where intrapreneurship comes in.
While there are a wide variety of skills that can make you an effective member of your organization, intrapreneurs typically display a combination of the following:
Essentially, intrapreneurs are able to take calculated risks and turn ambiguity into opportunity. Read more about this here. “The Importance of Grit and Resilience (Using a Growth Mindset to Grow Your Business)”
Encouraging your employees to tap into their entrepreneurial spirits is likely to produce creative and profitable results. An innovation fair, or even a team meeting devoted exclusively to the discussion of new ideas, is one way of giving others the chance to pitch ideas and brainstorm. You can also schedule time within the work day to offer employees the opportunity to spend time on side projects of their choosing (see: Google’s 20% Time). Creating a “sandbox fund” or setting aside an allocation of money for the implementation of new ideas is another way to give employees the opportunity for ownership (that is, control over costs and profits).
In our modern marketplace, where heavy change and uncertainty are commonplace, nothing is off-limits. From environmental instability to societal advancement, there are new concerns, dilemmas, and questions that need to be addressed by corporations every single day. COVID-19, for instance, has triggered a significant drop in the global GDP, while the displacement of approximately 800 million jobs is anticipated with the arrival of artificial intelligence in the workplace.
Don’t forget – intrapreneurship is at the top of the list for hiring managers all over the world! In 2020 Michael Page, a global recruitment firm, named intrapreneurship the most desirable skill of the year.
Questions like “What are possible scenarios for employment growth?” and “How can we manage upcoming workforce transitions?” reveal the multilayered reality of potential occupational shifts in years to come.
By embracing innovation and supporting entrepreneurial spirit, employers can drive growth within their organizations, realign their focus, and become more resilient.