How Can Intrapreneurship Impact Corporate Innovation?

How Can Intrapreneurship Impact Corporate Innovation?

In a 2014 statement at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Eric Schmidt explained that the solution to the rapidly-evolving job market is “to upskill the workforce in entrepreneurial skills so they could survive the new era of work”.

Companies are increasingly embracing entrepreneurial employees to differentiate their workforce from the rest of the pack. Upskilling teams so they can master complex and uniquely human tasks can unlock serious benefits for modern businesses.

Specifically, the future of work will require organisations to develop teams of independent thinkers who can exercise creative ideas and entrepreneurial spirit from within. Intrapreneurs can have a dramatic impact on the DNA of a business by empowering internal innovation and adopting a proactive approach to internal decision making.

Upskilling your workforce to combine intrapreneurial skills with technical know-how will open doors to an entire universe of exciting growth opportunities. Let’s take a look at the four dimensions of how intrapreneurship can impact innovation in an organisation:

Work Towards Ambitious Goals

Internal entrepreneurship presents managers with an opportunity to set their sights on game-changing goals. While traditional management structures tend to focus on meeting targets in the here and now, intrapreneurship involves assigning individuals or entire teams with long-term problems that need solving.

As an employee of a company, intrapreneurs don’t have complete autonomy over how they work or what they work on. Their ultimate goal is to reach milestones and meet business outcomes.

Fostering a culture of innovation gives employees freedom to work towards ambitious goals and take ownership of their actions as they find the best possible solutions.

Leverage Internal Networks

Intrapreneurs are empowered by an entire army of skilled employees, trusted partners, technical resources and financial support.

Corporates provide more regulatory cover, larger amounts of data and potentially easier routes to market, which put these new ventures at a great advantage, compared to similar startups that don’t have the backing of a bigger company.

Utilising these resources in the right way can give intrapreneurs the momentum they need to gain traction much faster.

Internal support networks in large organisations can springboard intrapreneurial success by creating safe spaces for experimentation. Crucially, experimentation provides vital data-backed evidence to enhance project proposals to senior decision makers and justify expenditure when budgets are tight.

In theory, the breadth of resources available in large corporations provides intrapreneurs with an entire toolbox to help them build successful innovation projects.

Reframing Failure

While a single failure can spell doom and gloom for a standalone entrepreneur, internal entrepreneurs can enjoy the safety net of their organisation to absorb the financial impact of innovation experiments that don’t work out.

In fact, intrapreneurs can reframe failures as successful experiments that disprove a hypothesis. Both eventualities yield valuable data and insights as to why it was disproved or proved. Intrapreneurs can use these insights to improve subsequent experiments and share with other departments of their organisation. For example, the data gathered from an innovation experiment could be useful for your marketing department when they create new promotion campaigns.

Intrapreneurship promotes experimental ideas. Whether it’s Google’s failed ‘Project Glass’ or Amazon pulling the plug on their innovative ‘Dash Button’, not all ventures succeed. Companies can learn from failed experiments to understand what their customers want and stretch the boundaries of what’s possible.

As Thomas Edison famously said in reference to his invention of the light bulb: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Before you find a winning solution, you need to find the ways that won’t work.

Accountability

Instead of limiting employees through rigid management structures, intrapreneurs need freedom to voice their own ideas and take responsibility for solving a specific problem.

While goal-setting and KPIs play an important role in successful innovation teams, giving employees a long leash can incentivise intrapreneurs to take ownership of their actions. When employees are directly responsible and rewarded for the success of a project, they’re encouraged to deliver their best work.

To this end, some of the more progressive organisations use creative compensation models to mimic equity ownership and promote internal risk-taking.

You can review a collection of successful intrapreneurship examples that we collected over the years here.

Originally published on StudioZao.com

If you are interested into Intrapreneurship, why not checking out our online Intrapreneurship course?

Innovation helps us reach new milestones in the story of human progress. Some of the most amazing innovations were created by employees inside established organisations. Explore how to harness and apply intrapreneurship to drive growth and resilience.

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Davide Turi

Davide Turi

Lean Startup Ambassador in London, helping individuals and organizations to develop entrepreneurial skills @StudioZao

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