Many organizations today, whether startups; small, mid-sized or large are looking out for this one important requirement amongst their employees. The requirement is called Intrapreneurship.
There is no word called ‘Intrapreneurship’ in the dictionary. So I had a curiosity as to where have the word come from, what are its different traits, is it possible to acquire or enhance these traits further within us and importantly what are the additional rewards we can get if we take efforts in embracing these qualities?
Intrapreneurship is the act of behaving like an entrepreneur while working within a large organization. Intrapreneurship is known as the practice of a corporate management style that integrates risk taking and innovation approaches. This also involves rewards for such behaviors. Traditionally these behaviors were considered to be the province of entrepreneurship.
Some time back a business newspaper published an article that had a headline ‘India has got startup talent, but….’. The article talks about the key traits a startup entrepreneur requires and argues whether we have an ecosystem that facilitates development and fostering of these traits or competencies.
You might wonder that when we are talking about ‘Intrapreneurship’, why is the reference to startup entrepreneurial traits? In fact, this is the key question. Let’s try and answer this question after seeing some of the startup entrepreneurial traits.
Here are some of the key traits or competencies.
Recently I watched a sponsored event on startup awards. As a part of this event, there was a panel discussion. The panelists were Kunal Behl (Snapdeal); Naveen Tiwari (InMobi); Pranay Chulet (Quickr) and Ankit Bhati (Ola cabs). These are the people who build unicorns. Unicorns in startup lingo are those companies that have a valuation of $1 billion and above. The moderator asked them what makes a startup successful. Of the many things that the panelists said, one thing that was common was the ability of an individual or group to solve a problem. If you see, each of these entities looked at a problem that is faced by the majority of people and builds their products or services to solve that problem.
Creativity walks on two legs says ex IIM Ahmedabad Director Pradip Khandwalla. One is an analytical, logical and focused mode of thinking. The other leg is imaginative, even a fanciful mode of thinking, which extensively uses analogies, suggestions, fantasies, intuitions etc. So typically a problem solving exercise will demand one to operate on both these legs. So a startup entrepreneur (and her team) has to use logical and focused thinking to look at various aspects of a problem and imaginative and ambiguous thinking to arrive at various alternatives to the identified problem.
To be able to solve a problem, the startup entrepreneur need to work with cross functional teams, external partners, people from the industry, regulator etc. So a hierarchy based mindset may not work. She needs to have the flexibility to adapt to the changing requirement of the business or project and collaborate with people.
Now coming back to our question of Intrapreneurs. Look at any function like sales, marketing, finance, HR, customer service or any function that you are a part of. Do you think irrespective of the function, one needs to live these traits of problem solving, creativity and collaboration? Do you think honing these capabilities will have its own rewards for us professionally and personally?
The American Heritage Dictionary acknowledges intrapreneur to mean "A person within a large corporation who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product through assertive risk-taking and innovation.
If we were to filter through this definition, we should get the answer whether Intrapreneur is a fad or necessity and whether embracing this attitude can be of help to us.