Intrapreneurship: Why and how to encourage it.

Intrapreneurship is one of the most important success factors for companies. It promotes productivity, increases employee loyalty and leads to new, innovative solutions. Apple, Microsoft and many other of the world’s most innovative companies have long recognized this and launched their own intrapreneurship programs. They know about the creative potential of their employees and give them the freedom to work as intrapreneurs. But what exactly does that mean? And how can your company benefit from it?

Intrapreneurs are the dreamers who do. The ones that take on responsibility for creating innovation of any kind, within a business.”

Gifford Pinchot

What`s behind the buzzword?

Similar to entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs are keen to develope new solutions and innovative products. They have a strong desire for self-determination and self-actualization. The difference between the two is that intrapreneurs do not start their own company to implement their ideas, but work on original concepts within established corporations. Ideally, then, working as an intrapreneur offers creative freedom without the financial risks of owning a start-up. Employees who are committed to their company in this way are more motivated and usually identify more strongly with the company because they see how their own innovative ideas benefit the company. 

Intrapreneurs feel more connected with their company as they see their personal impact on it.

Medium-sized and large corporations are teeming with people who want to support their company with their own ideas. It’s time to awaken this dormant potential! With the following 4 tips, you will succeed in promoting intrapreneurship and innovation in your company:

1. Explain the “why” instead of telling the “how”

Only when everyone involved knows the overarching goal can they find the most effective way to achieve it. Unfortunately, work assignments are still far too often simply passed on to the subordinate employee without explaining the meaning behind them. But instead, the reason for the task, the “why,” should be stated first. Employees who know the goal behind their job are more motivated and able to develop alternative solutions.

2. Communicate openly and listen carefully

Open and clear communication is always important, but in the exchange with intrapreneurs it is essential! Employees need to know that their ideas are valued and important to management. The best way for managers to show their interest is by sincerely listening. A well-known innovative leader said this:

“It doesn`t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do”

Steve Jobs

3. Share responsibility and reward success

Many employees shy away from realizing their own ideas because they are afraid of failure. More precisely, of the consequences of such failure. The fear of losing one’s job or having to pay for the damage is great. 

But in fact, the risk of not trying because of this is even much greater than the risk of failure. Companies without innovation do not have a long life expectancy. Good managers know this and invest in the internal development of new concepts. In doing so, it is important to provide security for the newly appointed intrapreneurs. As we already mentioned in our article about failure culture, managers must share the risk of failure, if not shoulder it entirely. Only then, the creative minds are free and light-hearted enough for fundamental innovations. At the same time, it helps to let everyone involved share the reward of a successful idea. This can be done, for example, through a classic profit-sharing scheme.

Many employees are afraid of the consequences. Take away that fear by sharing the responsibility with them.

4. Allow autonomy and allocate resources

Creativity needs space. Don’t hesitate and give your innovation team the space they deserve. The concept of New Work recommends to bind employees emotionally to the company, but to liberate them in terms of time and space. Allow your intrapreneurs to freely arrange their working hours and work location. Don’t worry, they are dedicated and intrinsically motivated employees and the risk of losing them is low. On the contrary, they will thank you for your trust! Coupled with a reasonable budget, promising new prototypes are sure to emerge.

Jump-start your Intrapreneurship program. Today.

You want to promote intrapreneurship in your company, but don’t know where to start? How about an internal innovation challenge? Our Innoverse Kit provides you with everything you need to help your employees develop ideas: From needs analysis over idea development to prototype design – the Innoverse Kit provides valuable tips and methods to develop innovative solutions! And it’s completely free of charge.

We wish you and your colleagues success and a lot of fun!

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