While Steve Jobs popularized the term “intrapreneurship” in a 1985 Newsweek article, this topic is still gaining traction as the entrepreneurial mindset is increasingly needed within corporations as much as outside to set new vision, disrupt ways of doing things, anticipate change, and solve problems that will better our culture. Innovation is strategy for the future. And since individuals -- you and me -- make up our private sector, public sector and civil society, we need more individuals creating new and better norms within larger structures.
Coined by Gifford Pinchot III in the late 1970s, he described intrapreneurs as "dreamers who do. Those who take hands-on responsibility for creating innovation of any kind, within a business."
If you are an individual within a company, here is my challenge to you: Recognize that you are unique and have the ability to bring a distinct and insightful perspective to your position and to the company. Ask yourself to consider what you would recommend to your CEO that could help the company be more successful in a specific area while also benefiting people in and/or outside the organization. If the idea came to you quickly that means you already have a vision and a seed that needs watering.
If you need a prompt, consider whether you could:
Recommend a new workflow or org-chart change that will yield better results in shorter time
Push an external investment that grows the company’s brand visibility, respect and reputation in an increasingly relevant sector
Support a new relationship, vendor, or partnership that helps you achieve an exponentially greater result
Start an internal initiative that will ultimately benefit employee culture
Here are five entrepreneurial habits to hone if intrapreneurship is for you (and I hope it is!):
1. Find Comfort in the Discomfort: If you’re not uncomfortable or scared, you’re not driving innovation
2. Don’t Abort Your Vision: If you have a vision for something that can affect positive change, don’t abort it due to lack of time, too much effort or fear
3. Prepare to Weather the Storms: To achieve your vision, know you will put in extra work and weather many storms and naysayers
4. Be Driven By the Purpose: Get clear on the positive impact your initiative will create and let that goal get you through the storms, because there is nothing more rewarding than “doing good” and dedicating efforts towards a greater purpose
5. Always Be Marketing: Know you will need to consistently sell, show up, speak up and stand up for your initiatives and ideas to those above, across, and below
Just because you may work in a corporate environment or large business does not mean you cannot embrace the entrepreneurial spirit. Why not be an inside source of boldness, innovation & imagination and contribute in new ways -- big or small -- to grow the prospects of your organization and its culture? I leave you with a favorite Emerson quote: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within us out into the world, miracles happen.”