There is danger ahead for many of you. The bigger you are the harder it is to innovate. Or so says many critics. And we tend to agree. Sometimes.
Those giants of industry do start to move slowly. However the truth is this: Large or small, for-profit or nonprofit, an organization that invests in intrapreneurs—and gives them what they need to innovate—will benefit from them.
More and more, larger organizations are figuring this out. Shaughnessy suggests “the rules of innovation are changing…the ideas around disruptive and sustaining innovation, which put executives on the edge of their seats in fear of smaller rising stars, are losing their relevance.”
Instead, large companies are expanding their portfolios of products to enable innovation. Google X labs, for instance, has launched everything from driverless cars to Google Glass, high-altitude Wi-Fi balloons, and glucose-monitoring contact lenses. With Google’s continuing evolution, Apple has had to stay competitive and harness maximum creativity from its employees.
Look at the underlying efforts of both Google and Apple and you’ll find a concentrated and intentional move to empower employees and execute calculated risk taking. It’s a culture of entrepreneurialism within the confines of the corporation, far beyond and more aggressive than the typical and traditional project development efforts in most companies. And let’s be honest: Neither Google nor Apple is a typical, traditional company. Their atypical growth results make that statement loud and clear. We believe that one of the factors of that growth at Google is a direct result of their investment in employee intrapreneurs.
This is the value of the intrapreneur. But let’s take a second to define that term. An intrapreneur is an individual who can, within the walls of an existing business, bring forth an idea/concept/invention and dedicate his or her time to turning that whim into a new product or business line extension. It is this intrapreneur that is the critical component to your internal growth engine. However, having these unique personalities on your payroll does not necessarily guarantee you success. It’s what you do with your brilliant intrapreneurs that will dictate the success of your company or organization.
These employees have something in their DNA. Call it an entrepreneurial streak or maybe an eye for solving problems and answering the questions others can’t. They can work independently but, more importantly, they can work seamlessly as part of an integrated team at your organization.
Are you creating a culture in which they can thrive? Do you even know where to find intrapreneurs? Do you have any idea how to recruit them and interview them?