When I first stepped into the headquarters of TEG Corporate, a sanctuary for Learning and Development, the one thing that struck me wasn’t the sleek design or the vibrant community of professionals. It was the undercurrent of something less tangible but far more powerful: a culture of intrapreneurship. You could feel the charge in the air, a magnetic pull towards endless possibilities.
Allow me to set the scene. Imagine an orchestra. Each musician is incredibly talented in their own right, having spent years mastering their instrument. But it’s when the conductor brings them together, allowing them the freedom to interpret the music in their unique way, that something magical happens. The result is a symphony far greater than the sum of its parts. This, in essence, is the marvel of intrapreneurship within an organisation.
But why should your business care? Sure, you’ve heard the buzzwords: “increased productivity,” “innovation,” and “streamlined processes.” However, I urge you to consider the often-overlooked, subtle benefits that are just as game-changing.
Firstly, intrapreneurship fosters a culture of ownership. Employees no longer view themselves as mere cogs in a machine. They see themselves as mini-entrepreneurs within the company, intrinsically motivated to see their projects and, by extension, the company, succeed.
The psychological concept of the “endowment effect” explains that people assign more value to things simply because they own them (read more about it in Richard Thaler’s work).
This leads to not just higher commitment but also improved quality of work, as employees treat their projects as their “babies.” Secondly, intrapreneurship naturally culminates in a learning organization.
The culture of experimentation means that failure isn’t penalised but viewed as a learning opportunity. Think of Thomas Edison and his 1,000 attempts to create the light bulb. In his words, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps” (source). This stance not only makes the organisation resilient but also ensures that the accumulated expertise and learnings get embedded into the very DNA of the company.
Thirdly, intrapreneurship leads to employee retention. A study from the Gallup Organisation indicated that a lack of career growth opportunities is one of the leading reasons for employee turnover. Intrapreneurship allows employees to stretch their wings, work on projects they are passionate about, and see the tangible impact of their efforts. It offers them the best of both worlds: the resources and stability of a large organisation with the creativity and autonomy of a startup.
Lastly, intrapreneurship can pave the way for unexpected revenue streams. By harnessing the diverse talents and perspectives within your organisation, you may stumble upon ideas and projects that were not even on your radar. For instance, Gmail, AdSense, and Google Maps were all born from Google’s “20% time,” a policy allowing employees to spend one-fifth of their time on side projects (source).
Intrapreneurship isn’t just another corporate fad. It’s a transformative force that can bring about deep-rooted changes beneficial to any organisation willing to embrace it. So the next time you walk into your office, look around. Do you see an orchestra waiting to play its symphony, or a disjointed group of musicians? The choice, my friends, is yours.