Intrapreneurship… Are You Heading for Failure or Success?

Welcome to this 2 minute HR blast on Intrapreneurship.

As we travel around we come across increasing numbers of organisations interested in developing a culture of ‘Intrapreneurship’. In other words entrepreneurship inside an established company! In fact we are starting to see conferences being organised around the world on this very topic. Is this something in your sights?

What is Intrapreneurship?

In essence Intrapreneurship initiatives seek to:

  • encourage independent thinking and local problem solving,
  • widen the scope for creative thinking and creative contribution and
  • build on existing initiatives around individual accountability and the clear linking of actions to organisational strategy.

And the benefits?

  • Employees who drive a culture of continuous improvement through regularly contributing ideas
  • An organisation that is one step ahead of its competitors in respect of innovation and product/service development
  • Customer satisfaction that results from interacting with thinking people rather than process and procedurally driven automatons
  • Staff who feel more engaged with, and more valued by, their organisation and who therefore stay longer in their jobs ( thereby improving both productivity and retention rates)
  • Shareholders who get a better return as a result of enhanced customer satisfaction, greater business growth etc.

With these benefits, no wonder that so many organisations are putting in place Intrapreneurship initiatives. And, whilst within our business we are a massive supporter of Intrapreneurship, we do worry that, if managed badly, this is going to end up as just a fad, rather than the future, for many organisations.

Failure or Success?

The reality of course is that if an initiative doesn’t work, it will be dropped and then written off as just a fad. And we do think some of the existing initiatives we have seen will fail. These are the reasons we think they will fail:

  • If someone has worked for the same organisation for 20+ years, are they really the right person to head up an Intrapreneurship initiative? Absolutely not. If they had one entrepreneurship bone in their body they wouldn’t have done 20 years in the same organisation and after 20 years in one organisation, do they even have a good/broad understanding of the world outside?
  • If the organisational processes and procedures are so rigid that staff have no ability (or freedom) to think independently, then no amount of training in developing independent thinking skills will bring benefits. You will just end up with staff saying they are getting mixed messages and that will then impact on staff morale and ultimately productivity.
  • You can’t encourage independent thinking amongst staff until you have developed your managers’ independent thinking skills and also shown them the business value of developing that skill in their staff. Too many organisations have managers who, as a result of lack of appropriate development, are not confident or skilled enough to manage an empowered team.
  • It takes courage to allow staff to fully contribute to business ideas and direction through their creativity and independent thinking.  Are your leaders, and your organisation generally, courageous (and humble) enough to allow employees a genuine voice? Is there a serious top level discussion that needs to take place first before going down this route?
  • Perhaps you have a culture of fear and protecting your own back in your organisation, in which case no one will want to suggest anything more than the simplest and easiest of ideas in order to protect their own job? If so, you will need to work on the culture before introducing an Intrapreneurship initiative.
  • If you develop creative thinking abilities, then you need to ensure there is an outlet for the ideas that are generated within the business. How will great ideas and independent thinking be maximised? If there is no outlet then your newly creative thinking workforce may well resign in order to join an organisation that will value their contribution

The benefits of Intrapreneurship to an organisation are huge and we do believe this has the potential to be the future. However, to make this work, organisations need to pay attention to those things that could result in failure of their initiative.

A 5 step approach:

  1. Review your organisational culture. If necessary, you then need to develop a culture of ideas generation and ideas implementation. You also might need to better develop a culture of genuine employee engagement
  2. Take time to demonstrate to managers the financial benefits and wider value of Intrapreneurship and develop managers’ competence and confidence to manage empowered and engaged individuals
  3. Deliver training for staff and managers in how to become confident at independent and creative thinking
  4. Regularly monitor how ideas are being generated and implemented to ensure staff are seeing that their contributions are being used and valued and the business is benefitting from those. Put in place measures to both monitor and understand the value of your initiative.
  5. Sit back and enjoy seeing your competitors’ faces as you deliver greater profits and greater shareholder returns as well as having improved employee productivity and retention rates!

Interested to learn more?

Check out our Bags of Learning… cost effective, but simply brilliant and ground breaking training that you can roll out across your organisation.

  • Developing independent thinking
  • Motivating, engaging and retaining staff
  • Developing coaching skills for managers
  • Managing change

Or otherwise why not ask us about employee surveys or conducting a training needs analysis for you? Email us.


The information contained within this article is for general guidance only and represents our understanding of employment and associated law and employee relations issues as at the date of publication. Jaluch Limited, or any of its directors or employees, cannot be held responsible for any action or inaction taken in reliance upon the contents. Specific advice should be sought on all individual matters.

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