It’s true that intrapreneurs are like entrepreneurs when working within an organisation, they are the dreamers armed with the necessary skills to turn their ideas into profitable business opportunities. Whether you are aware of it or not, you may already have several intrapreneurs in your organisation, the leaders, though they might not have this job title, who think outside the box and know how to get things done.

The question is, “How do you find and create the army of intrapreneurs you need to innovate and thrive going forward?”

The answer is to give these stars the tools and framework to successfully take their idea from a whiteboard brainstorm to implementation and create a culture of intrapreneurship.
I would recommend that you start by providing them with a forum and framework for brainstorming solutions to problems. Once the problem and potential solutions have been identified, most will need a few skills to move their idea forward successfully: pitching their idea, assembling the right team and the basics of project management.

Pitching the idea
Many will have great ideas but more often than not they get shut down or ignored because they don’t consider the financial impact. My advice would be to focus on the metrics that matter and show the board they have a significant opportunity to recoup their investment in a specific amount of time. Arm your employees with the metrics used to make company decisions and watch them think about their idea in a whole new way. A way that brings opportunity, innovation and growth.

Assembling the right team
Next, let your employees assemble the right team needed to implement their idea and let them take control of the budget etc. Remember that they may need help from you and the other key influencers to identify and solicit buy-in from all the key stakeholders within the organisation. It’s important to ask all stakeholders, “What’s the worst that could happen?” this will address potential blind spots at the pilot stages.

Often, the employee pitches their idea to a manager, who then needs to take it further up the chain. The authors who originally coined the term “intrapreneur” in a 1978 paper, yes, it was that far back, Gifford and Elizabeth Pinchot, urged companies to “make sponsoring innovation a central part of the corporate culture and every manager’s job.” This has to happen for complete buy in from everyone.

Implementing project management
Next, I would train your staff on the basic principles of project management. For this I would recommend that you focus less on the method of project management you use, sigma six etc, but really focus on using it well and to its full potential. At its core, project management is really only about the following steps:

  1. Set-up
  2. Execution
  3. Review

If your staff have the tools to think about their project in that context and the flexibility and the permission to pivot when things don’t go as originally planned, their idea will be more likely to succeed.

At this stage it’s a good idea to provide them with a template to outline their ideas, the proposed return on investment (or missed opportunity if the idea is not implemented), the required team and resources, and planned steps for managing the project. They should also get used to using a tool called a ‘project charter’ to document a new project’s essential information.

At this point I will mention that I use a BMC to design everything we do as a company so that we have a real handle on what we are offering, who it’s for and if they will use it. This might be a good time to find out about how the BMC works and if it’s right for you to implement in any given project.

Knowing when to Pivot
The most critical elements of creating a culture of intrapreneurship in your organisation is learning from the process and “failing forward.” Your staff need to document how and when they know it’s time to cancel the project in their project charter. After the decision has been made, it’s critical to debrief, discuss and document what you learned and share that information with other teams. I can’t stress how important it is to share knowledge at all stages.

Amazon created Alexa from an idea for their FIRE phone, the rival to the Pixel from Google. They realised early on that not only was the voice commands of the time just aimed at the smartphone, but it wasn’t transferrable. They changed that. Continue reading

Its best to understand that not every idea will be a good one or that it might have a reasonable return on investment in an appropriate amount of time, but if even one idea takes off, it could be a game changer for your business. That’s worth trying and what’s the worst that could happen.

What Next?

You probably already know after reading this article that we can help you with everything I’ve outlined above but if you think it’s not important to implement in your organisation at this time, no worries, have a great day and I’ll see you next time.

If on the other hand you want to know more, please feel free to contact me by visiting the contact us page or set up a 30 minute call with me to talk through how we can help you turn around your organisations culture and find and empower your intrapreneurs by following this link:

Have a fab day!

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