Starting with Thomas Edison’s classic quote:
I didn’t fail. I just found 10,000 solutions that didn’t work.
During the 2014 World Economic Forum in Davos, Eric Schmidt explained that the solution to the rapidly evolving job market is to “enhance the entrepreneurial skills of the workforce so they can survive the new era of work.”
Companies are increasingly looking for entrepreneurial employees. This is mainly due to the complexity of the moment we live as a society, not only because of the pandemic but also because of the empowerment of consumers and the questioning of the status quo on many issues.
The future of work will require organizations to develop independent teams with creative ideas and an entrepreneurial spirit. Intrapreneurs can have a decisive impact on a company’s DNA by strengthening innovation and taking a more proactive approach to internal decision-making.
Upskilling your workforce to combine entrepreneurial skills with technical knowledge will open doors to a universe of exponential growth opportunities.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the four dimensions of how intrapreneurs can impact innovation in a company:
Intrapreneurs help achieve ambitious goals
Intrapreneurs present the opportunity to set their goals to change the game. While traditional management structures tend to focus on meeting goals in the here and now, intrapreneurs face long-term problems that need to be solved through a roadmap of experiments.
Like employees of a company, intrapreneurs do not have complete autonomy over how they work or what they work on. Their ultimate goal is to achieve business milestones and outcomes defined by the innovation thesis.
Fostering a culture of innovation gives employees the freedom to work toward ambitious goals and take responsibility for their actions while finding the best possible solutions. At the same time, it allows leaders to manage risk and deliver results along the innovation journey.
Intrapreneurs leverage internal resources
Intrapreneurs are empowered by qualified employees, partners, technical resources, customer insights, and financial support from their organization.
Companies provide more regulatory coverage, more data, and potentially more accessible routes to market, which puts new ventures at a significant advantage compared to similar startups that lack the support of a larger company.
Utilizing these often untapped resources in the right way can give intrapreneurs the boost they need to gain traction much faster, often forming internal startups.
Internal support networks in large organizations can help intrapreneurs succeed by creating safe spaces for experimentation. Crucially, the experiment provides evidence supported by vital data to prove the value of innovation ideas and justify further investment.
The breadth of resources available in large corporations provides intrapreneurs with a complete toolbox to help them build successful innovation projects.
Intrapreneurs turn failure into learning
While a single failure may generate a more significant impact for independent entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs can leverage their organization’s safety net to absorb the financial impact of innovation experiments that don’t work.
Intrapreneurs can use these insights to improve upcoming experiments and share them with other departments in their organization. For example, data collected from an innovation experiment can be helpful to your marketing department when creating new campaigns.
By reframing failure, intrapreneurs promote experimental ideas. Companies can learn from failed experiments to understand what their customers want and push the boundaries of what is possible.
Intrapreneurs increase accountability
Rather than limiting employees through rigid management structures that struggle to cope with uncertainty and rapidly evolving contexts, intrapreneurs open the door to an approach where individual responsibility is the key to driving the company forward.
Intrapreneurs thrive by taking responsibility for fulfilling a specific innovation thesis. Once goals are set, and responsibilities are defined, intrapreneurs can help take accountability to the next level by taking ownership of their actions within predefined boundaries. When employees are directly responsible and rewarded for the success of a project, they are encouraged to deliver their best.
Finally, companies need to create systems to empower their intrapreneurs. It is not enough to want employees with “ownership spirit”; the corporate ecosystem needs to be less bureaucratic and less political for the corporate entrepreneurship model to be effective.