Intrapreneurship is a term that is quite new to most of us. So, let’s try to understand what it means before moving further.
Intrapreneurship is a system where entrepreneurship activities are performed within the walls or boundaries of a particular organisation. So, intrapreneurs are employees of a company who work on dedicated projects assigned to them while using their own ideas to innovatively solve problems. The firm provides these intrapreneurs with the necessary resources such as funds, marketing setups and other activities in order to achieve their goals.
In short, an intrapreneur can be imagined as an inside entrepreneur of a company. An intrapreneur shouldn’t be averse to risk-taking and should be open to confronting new challenges. Since the companies absorb the losses, an intrapreneur doesn’t incur any cost from his or her own pocket. There is a freedom to experiment for the individual albeit with some constraints. Intrapreneurs are usually self-driven and possess leadership traits. They make the people in their firm belief in their ideas and work towards achieving them.
Entrepreneurs envision creating new businesses from start to finish while intrapreneurs work on achieving the goals set by the company. These goals may vary from increasing productivity to completing a specific project assigned to them. They need to understand the demands of the firm and how the market is shaping up to create the necessary product or service expected out of them.
The following example on intrapreneurship will help you understand more.
Healey Cypher was working as eBay’s global product management when he realised that a majority of consumers were purchasing in physical stores within 15 miles of their locations while his own company, eBay was providing just e-commerce service. Sensing this opportunity, he assembled a team of engineers to develop physical retail stores. They created innovative and interactive storefront models which looked appealing to retailers, thereby increasing their physical retail sales. The project was ultimately installed by Toys R Us and the group of engineers collaborated to do the same for companies like TOMS shoes and Sony.
Thus, intrapreneurs need to sense opportunities and innovate like how Cypher did with his team. He provided autonomy for his team to effectively solve the problem and implement a solution, helping his company move forward.
So how can companies identify and develop intrapreneurs?
Individuals with intrapreneurial talents often remain hidden and unrecognised. According to studies, the relationship between
traits like extroversion, work values like creativity and other factors like individualism can help organisations identify intrapreneurs as there seems to be a strong association between these factors. The entire selection process can be framed to test these skills in a candidate thereby making sure that the right individuals join your firm.
It is vital for organisations to provide conditions which facilitate intrapreneurship culture. Empowering the managers, who in turn enable their employees to innovate and be flexible while working can be an initial step towards developing intrapreneurship. Thus, these individuals will take ownership of the tasks assigned to them and make appropriate decisions to achieve their goals.
Some of the major disruptors to companies trying to adapt to an intrapreneurship culture
Fear of failure
Lack of rewards and remunerations
Defining and demarcating roles by creating boundaries