Intraprenership occurs when a business, usually a large one, allows for internal entrepreneurship among employees. Many organizations have vibrant innovation departments that allow their employees to implement new ventures and projects and this is akin to intrapreneurship.
It is important to embrace intrapreneurship for a variety of reasons. First, a successful intrapreneurship venture leads to growth of the business. It promotes innovation, which is good for growth and profitability.
Secondly, it attracts innovative and creative staff who would be demotivated by mundane activities. A culture that supports intrapreneurship is therefore important for motivating employees especially where good performance is accompanied by rewards. Intrapreneurship allows the organization to stay relevant and competitive as it allows for continuous innovation. The business remains relevant for a long period of time. In his book The StartUp Way, Eric Ries who has worked with many organizations advocates for continuous innovation as a way for businesses to have a long life.
I would therefore encourage organizations not to be too rigid in their internal policies and structures as this stifles innovation and intrapreneurship.
HOW TO EMBRACE A CULTURE OF INTRAPRENEURSHIP
Organizational culture starts with the top management. The owner and top management must be innovative so as to effectively lead a culture shift. Persons who are scared of leaving the comfort zone cannot lead organizational culture change.
The shift doesn’t necessarily call for technical knowledge but a readiness to embrace innovation. In his book The Spirit Of Leadership, Dr Myles Munroe notes that leadership is not necessarily academic or position centric, but has a lot to do with the personal attributes of the leader.
Key is that the leader has to be innovative and passionate as he will be able to impact his staff to be the same. It is therefore good to maintain an open door policy as innovations could come from junior staff.
Recruiting the right staff is important for the culture to be maintained. A quality to look out for during recruitment is innovativeness and seeking out candidates who think outside the box rather than those who stick to the norms.
During interviews ask questions that are divergent.
It is important to institutionalise intrapreneurship by having structures around it. This could be in the form of departments or forming a “think-tank team” whose work it is to explore innovations.
A sound legal policy is perhaps the most important success ingredient to maintain a culture of intrapreneurship. Therefore it is important to draft employment contracts that protect the organizations investment by having confidentiality clauses and restrictive covenants.
You must be cautious to define the job description of the staff as this may affect intellectual property rights. The little known right known as technovation, is available to employees who innovate beyond the scope of their duties.
The contract needs to set out the rewards and ownership of the product. You could decide to co-own the product with staff or give them monetary rewards. For some salary is enough reward especially those employed to innovate. It is also wise to have proper performance indicators to gauge the performance of the team so as to measure value addition.
Other ways to embrace this culture is by holding public innovation competitions, having hackathons and hubs for ideas.
Facebook is a good case study on the benefits of intrapreneurship. Did you know the “like “button as created by staff during a staff hackathon?