What is Intrapreneur: Definition and Characteristics of an Intrapreneur

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Introduction

Intrapreneurship refers to entrepreneurial activities that occur within an existing organization. Intrapreneurs are creative employees who develop new products, services, process, or business models for their company. Intrapreneurship is gaining popularity in organizations looking to get innovation, remain competitive, and engage employees.

Meaning of Intrapreneurship

An intrapreneur is similar like entrepreneur, but they operate within an established organization instead of starting their own company.

Intrapreneurs leverage the resources and capabilities of their organization to convert ideas into profitable new offerings. They take risks to create internal startups without “quitting their day jobs.”

Importance in Modern Organizations

Intrapreneurship is becoming important for organizations across industries. It provides a framework for nurturing innovation and an alternative to more risky external ventures.

Empowering intrapreneurs can lead to revolutionary products and significant competitive advantages. Organizations that work intrapreneurship tend to attract. And keep top talent who crave autonomy and creativity.

  • Increased innovation: Such entrepreneurs are always seeking innovative approaches to perform their duties . In other words, they don’t shy away from challenging the norm and venturing into uncharted territories. So, some of them may come up with a breakthrough product, service or process that will keep companies from being surpass by their competitors.
  • Improved financial performance: Research has revealed a cause and effect relationship between high intrapreneur culture and corporate financial performance. They can spot fresh prospects and exploit them compared to others.
  • Increased employee engagement and satisfaction: Also, intrapreneurs hold an innate passion towards their work as well they seek to innovate and excel. Higher employee involvement and satisfaction contribute towards higher efficiency and profits.
  • Attracting and retaining top talent: There are more Gen Z workers on the market who demand jobs with freedom, self-expression, and impact. Thus, intrapreneurship may offer these and other benefits that are necessary to keep valuable employees into the organization.

Definition of Intrapreneurship

Intrapreneurship

The term “intrapreneurship” was first used in 1978 by management consultant Gifford Pinchot III. He defined an intrapreneur as “an entrepreneur within an already established organization.” Intrapreneurs have an entrepreneurial mindset that allows them to identify unmet needs and commercialize innovative solutions.

Gifford Pinchot III and Elizabeth S. Pinchot “Intrapreneuring is the process of creating new enterprises within existing organizations. It is the process by which employees take direct responsibility for turning ideas into products, services, processes, or ventures for the benefit of the employing organization.”

Robert Hisrich and Michael P. Peters: “Intrapreneuring is the process of innovation within established organizations. It is the act of behaving like an entrepreneur while working within an existing organization.”

Donald L. Sexton and Nancy M. Isenberg : “Intrapreneurship is the process by which individuals identify opportunities within existing organizations and act to create new products, services, ventures, or processes.”

Jeffrey A. Timmons and Stephen Spinelli “Intrapreneurship is the process by which individuals inside organizations create new ideas and turn them into successful ventures. Intrapreneurs are individuals who take the initiative to create new products, services, or businesses within existing organizations.

Gerard H. Hamel “Intrapreneurship is the process by which individuals inside organizations create new business opportunities and bring them to life.”

Distinction Between Entrepreneur and Intrapreneur

CharacteristicEntrepreneurIntrapreneur
Works forSelfExisting organization
Career riskHighLower
Financial liabilityHighLower
Scope of workOversees all aspects of the businessFocuses on a specific product or project

Key Characteristics of an Intrapreneur

Successful intrapreneurs tend to exhibit certain traits:

  1. Creativity and Innovation: Intrapreneurs think outside the box to turn ideas into real world thing.
  2. Proactiveness and Initiative: Intrapreneurs are self-starters who take charge of projects without waiting for direction. Same like me 😉
  3. Adaptability and Resilience: Intrapreneurs prevail through challenges and embrace change as the project evolves.
  4. Intrapreneurial Mindset: Intrapreneurs are opportunity-oriented, ambitious, and willing to challenge the status quo.
  5. Vision and Strategic Thinking: Intrapreneurs consider the big picture and alignment with broader organizational goals.

Benefits of Intrapreneurship

There are advantages of intrapreneurship for both the organization and the intrapreneur.

Advantages for the Organization

  1. Enhanced Innovation and Competitiveness: Intrapreneurship allows organizations to expand offerings and stay ahead of the competition.
  2. Increased Employee Engagement and Retention: Empowering intrapreneurs enhances morale, fulfillment, and retention of top talent.

Advantages for the Intrapreneur

  1. Career Development and Growth Opportunities: Intrapreneurial projects provide visibility, experience, and advancement.
  2. Personal Fulfillment and Satisfaction: Bringing ideas to fruition is rewarding for intrapreneurs.

Challenges of Intrapreneurship

There are also some potential challenges associated with intrapreneurship.

Resistance to Change

  1. Organizational Barriers to Intrapreneurship: Established processes, aversions to risk, and inertia can obstruct innovation.
  2. Overcoming Resistance Within the Organization: Executive sponsorship, dedicated resources, and culture change help reduce internal barriers

Balancing Risk and Resources

  1. Navigating the Fine Line Between Innovation and Financial Stability: Organizations must allow appropriate risk-taking without jeopardizing the core business.
  2. Securing Resources for Intrapreneurial Projects: Dedicated people, funding, equipment, and facilities are need to develop concepts into reality.

Examples of Intrapreneurship

There are many examples of successful intrapreneurs throughout history.

  • Post-it Notes invented by 3M scientists
  • Lockheed Martin Skunk Works advanced projects division
  • Sony PlayStation conceived by internal gaming team

Real-World Examples of Intrapreneurial Projects

  • Amazon Web Services cloud computing platform
  • Starbucks Frappuccino blended beverages
  • 3M: As a company, 3M is renown for its culture of innovation as well as intrapreneurship. The company’s employees are motivated to spend about fifteen percent of their time dealing with new projects. Such efforts develop of some products that are currently considered as the company’s best products like Post-it Note and Scotch Tape.
  • Google: Another company that is noted for the culture of innovation and intrapreneurship is “Google”. A lot of the successful products at Google were developed as a result of risk-taking. In fact, the company encourages its employees to be risk takers so that they could try something new. This is why we have Gmail and Google Maps for instance.
  • Apple: Intrapreneurship has also been good to other companies, such as Apple. Apple’s co-founder and past CEO, Steve Jobs, was a renowned intrapreneur. He never relented in his search for novel methods of making the company’s products and services better. This gave birth to some of the most popular consumer appliances made by Apple such as the iPhone, iPad and MacBook.

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