Are you an Intrapreneur?


“Entrepreneurship” is a familiar word to most of us. An entrepreneur is someone who has set up a business of his or her own. They are deemed to be industrious individuals who had the courage to start something from the scratch.

 Who is an intrapreneur?

An intrapreneur is someone within (hence the prefix “intra”) the organisation who has qualities similar to an entrepreneur. They might not have set up their own business (yet) but their way of working, their ability to take risks, problem-solving  skills, creativity, all reflect the spirit of an entrepreneur.

 Why does an organisation need intrapreneurs? Why is such a culture being promoted?

   It often happens that people do have ideas, smart solutions and strategies. But they don’t always speak up thinking:

  • They won’t get any credit.
  • This is not their role.

Companies are now realising what all gets missed out at times because of a lack of encouragement for intrapreneurship.

 A culture of intrapreneurship intends to provide equal opportunities and space to voice ideas to everyone, irrespective of designation.

 An environment that scores high on intrapreneurship would:

  • Keep lines of communication open. Right from security guards, receptionists, would be given opportunities to voice their ideas, even if their ideas might not always fit their “roles”.
  • Allow people from ,say, marketing departments to voice their ideas about administration, the tech department to voice ideas about management, etc.  and vice versa.
  • Foster a sense of collaboration, empowerment, credit and rewards where deserved.

 It is not about using all the ideas at once and creating a mishmash. It is about giving that space to voice, to grow and to innovate and think independently. An intrapreneur needs to be identified and nurtured, and companies are beginning to realise this.

 So, are you an intrapreneur? Vijay Govindrajan and Jatin Desai list out some of the noticeable characteristics in the Harvard Business Review:

 Money is not the Measurement: Intrapreneurs wish to influence and be heard, money is not their primary motivation.

Strategic Scanning: They think one step ahead. They are learners and problem-solvers, and not ones who wait for things to just happen.

Greenhousing: When the seed of an idea gets planted in their minds, intrapreneurs let it grow. They read, research more about it and let it nurture fully before articulating.

Visual Thinking: Intrapreneurs brainstorm, brain-map and visualise ideas, multiple ideas. They are good at divergent thinking.

Pivoting: This is the ability to change strategies and shape ideas according to the changing needs. Intrapreneurs are thus flexible.

Authenticity and Integrity: Intrapeneurs are confident but also self-aware and with a keen sense of purpose.

 A spirit of collaboration, not competition needs to be fostered within organisations where intrapreneurs get nurtured, who one day might become entrepreneurs. Companies are often afraid that such individuals would eventually set up competitive ventures, but in these fears, the benefits that these enterprising people bring to the organisation are often overlooked.

So, are you an intrapreneur? Do you know one? Be one!