Intrapreneur is actually the same as entrepreneur except it operates within the framework of a larger organization that the Intrapreneur does not own. I think that most of us are born with an entrepreneurial mindset already embedded within us. Tragically, this is eroded by the time we get to school and start working, and is replaced with a victim mindset of entitlement that serves no one, least of all ourselves. Most parents weren’t of any help, as they had been through the mill themselves and the mill left its mark on them as well. The few who made it through and still retained an entrepreneurial mindset had decided that they would impact society more than society impacted them. And that is where we are today, at this writing.
Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, amongst other things, wrote a post called “You Need Employees with the “Founder’s Mindset”, which resonated very well with me. Do take a few minutes to read it, it’s worth your time! I have been talking about intrapreneurship in organizations for a while now, and I thought the post was so in line with what I’ve been thinking about. This is because the terms entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship don’t really need to exist at all if we are the healthy, functioning, fruitful human beings we are supposed to be. Am I suggesting you’re damaged? No, I’m telling you. The damaged includes me. Stop being so arrogant and take the mindset that no one is damaged. We are damaged, no matter which guru tells you otherwise. But not all is lost. The seeds of greatness, fruitfulness, loyalty, initiative, determination and so on are still within us and they can grow provided they get watered, get good soil and plenty of love and sunshine. And chronological age doesn’t matter, either! Get rid of this Gen X, Gen Y nonsense and start treating each other as people.
Bosses, business owners, CEOs, Division Heads, Department Heads, you all owe it to yourselves and to your people to nurture the spirit of intrapreneurship in them. You need to put aside your fear that they will either overtake you or leave you. You put aside that fear by improving yourself every single day. Improve yourself by one percent per day and in seventy days you’ll be twice as good, says Alan Weiss, and he is right, of course! When you are upon that self-improvement road, you help your people become better as well. You need to, in your heart, look upon your people as your partners and not as your “people assets”. This means that you only bring on board people who demonstrate the ability and the willingness to haul together with you. Contract out commodity-level tasks or aspects of your business to vendors. The sad fact is, that, while we want everyone to be intrapreneurs, there will always be some who choose to remain peddlers and vendors. Don’t think so? Why do you think robotics hasn’t advanced farther than it has today? If everyone had an intrapreneur mindset, there would be a great demand, and therefore resources poured into, robotics and other automation systems. The reason it hasn’t happened yet is because people still think that there is plenty of “cheap labour” idling around somewhere.
Nurture and sustain a spirit of intrapreneurship in your organization. It takes time and effort, and it is very well worth it. And remember to grow and improve yourself, too!