Are you pissing off your Intrapreneurs?

It was terrible. Head office was sending strategies from the US that just weren’t working in Asia Pac. And it was like no one wanted to know what wasn’t working. People were ticking boxes, making sure they were using the rhetoric of the day. The way to get ahead was not to rock the boat but align to ‘Corporate Direction’. So many followers…..so much politics…..so much wasted time in meetings where nothing was getting done. Same problem, different global meet.

By the time we had written the same problems on flipcharts in workshops in three consecutive quarters on three different continents with the same bunch of people under different headings ‘global marketing conference’, ‘global innovation conference’, ‘Annual European meeting’ – I knew I had to get out. I had become toxic.

I was in endless debates about change with superiors, extolling to anyone who would (or had to) listen about what we needed to do next, and running our part of the world out of synch with global (the way we cut the market was different – market segments rather than consumer trends), the way we structured teams was different,(cross region rather than geographic) and the strategy was different too. I was spending 80% of my time influencing for change against a riptide of ‘that’s not how the US is doing it’. I never thought of myself as an Intrapreneur and I certainly never saw myself as an entrepreneur.  My career started in the blue zone and ended in the red zone (see below).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I resigned.

I didn’t have all the answers and I wasn’t always right, thats for sure. But I was pretty obsessed about getting the business better and we needed a sub-culture that supported that.

Intrapreneurs can turn into entrepreneurs when they get frustrated and disillusioned with their current organisation. They become frustrated and disillusioned by lack of business progress from glacial decision making. Do you have people in your ranks that feel like this right now? Could they be considering an alternate career path with a ‘sexier’ company? Or might they be considering starting their own business?

It’s vital HR. P&C, OD and L&D leaders and strategists bring in Intrapreneur Programs, Intrapreneurship training methodologies and flexible structures to challenge and channel your Intrapreneurs.

 

9 Common questions about Intrapreneurs (and my answers)

  1. Are Intrapreneurs and Entrepreneurs born or created?

Born but often go undiscovered and unfulfilled. Whilst they are born, many can be ‘rough’, they can absolutely be developed into the motivated, positive agents of change that market incumbent businesses need more than ever right now

 

  1. How much is the ecosystem they live in, a determinate of their success?

Ecosystem has by far the biggest impact on the performance they deliver to an organisation.  and whether they stay or go. Done well, they can create millions in new revenue and BE the change that most business leaders are seeking right now

 

  1. Are they naturally creative and innovative?

Yes, they are described this way as they constantly assimilate a large amount of information to troubleshoot and problem solve. In this way, they develop new initiatives and are often labelled the ‘ideas people’.

 

  1. Must they have an appetite for risk?

Yes, they are prepared to put their reputations, colleague harmony and even their careers on the line to achieve the change they see as necessary to improve business performance

 

  1. How ambitious are they?

 They are far less motivated by their own career and money than they are passionate about what they believe the organisation should be doing to improve the business

 

  1. How many do I have in my workforce?

I have found the 80:20 rule to apply here but on two levels.

 

  • 80% of your workforce is happy with the status quo and thus only 20% seek change.
  • Of the 20% that seek change, 80% of those seek to make their job or their job process, function better. But an Intrapreneur seeks change from the businesses perspective and not their job’s perspective. So Intrapreneurs are the 20% of the 20% which is 4%. So 4% of your total workforce are Intrapreneurs
  • The 4% can be augmented to about 10% with the right training and ecosystem.

 

  1. How can I find out who they are?

Get them to take this test to see if they are highly enterprising as one indication.

OR,   look for these 6 behaviours:

  • Troubleshoot and problem solve (even when out of scope of their role)
  • Healthy skepticism for mainstream views, happy to be a voice of one
  • High level of ownership, accept responsibility (even sometimes for other’s mistakes)
  • Can elicit resources and support beyond role; influential
  • You are tempted to use them in a variety of projects/teams/roles; adaptable
  • Get frustrated with status quo and repeated talk without resolution or action

 

  1. How can I get the best out of them for the business?

Focus them on the future, challenge them to find new high growth areas for the business and make sure the corporate immune system doesn’t kill them when just starting out

 

And the biggie –

  1. What’s the difference between an Intrapreneur and an Entrepreneur?

Not much. Many would say that Entrepreneurs risk more. Their own money for example. True, but many entrepreneurs were also led by circumstance. Many Intrapreneurs become entrepreneurs when frustrated.  One way to think about it is –  it’s a blurry line but they vary only in the degree to which they seek change, risk and business results. They are at a slightly different point on the same continuum and far away from the ‘average’.

 

Intrapreneurs and the ecosystem you create for them are an organisation’s answer to getting super high growth projects launched and delivered whilst at the same time retaining this element of your ‘future talent’.

You want to innovate like a startup?

You want to disrupt first?

You want to avoid being beaten to market?

You want to change more but risk less?

You want to do more with innovation than stick coloured post-it notes up on walls, take photographs and go back to work?

 

Doesn’t it seem just a little silly to be leaving your unidentified Intrapreneurs in the ‘operational’ day to day pool of CORE activities?

And similarly, why would you ask your whole workforce to be more innovative and risk-taking when they are not wired as Intrapreneurs and the core business stills needs to be run?

Play to people’s strengths peeps…There is a tremendous opportunity to catalyse innovation and disruption, to create new markets and to grow your socks off if you identify, develop and empower your Intrapreneurs.

 

Use your revolutionaries for your next evolution.

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