A Case for Intrapreneurship for Career Growth

What is an Intrapreneur?

Will Kenton at Investopedia states, “An intrapreneur is an employee who develops an innovative idea or project within a company.”

Entrepreneurs start from scratch and build businesses from the ground up where there are no existing processes.  That also means there is no entrenched culture and politics that people have to work within. 

Conversely, intrapreneurs improve organizations through change leadership and apply the organization’s resources to develop innovation.  The trade-off is that intrapreneurs have to consider the organization’s culture and manage relationships differently.  For example, an innovative idea can deflate the need for a multi-year pet project.  People will not give up a process quickly for a new way of doing work after committing years of blood and sweat.

Intrapreneurs solve complex problems where the answers to most questions are, “This is the way we’ve always done it.” In many cases, people grow accustomed to the status quo after following the procedure for years. The next round of employees get trained on the process, and the inefficiency perpetuates itself. It takes an outsider (not necessarily an outsider to the group or organization) to break the cycle to breathe new life into the workflow.

What value do they provide?

Abraham Lincoln stated, “the best way to predict the future is to create it.” Intrapreneurs will investigate a system and find ways to do work more efficiently or cost-effectively. They look at the benefit/cost ratio to see if it is worth the resources to implement a change. By examining the return on investment, intrapreneurs naturally produce value to the organization because nobody should agree to work on a project that does not benefit the organization. 

Why you should be an intrapreneur?

Smart risk management

Managers maintain the status quo.

Intrapreneurs break the status quo.

The status quo stifles innovation because there is no incentive to change. When work around you does not change, you do not change. It becomes easy to fall into the comfort zone. It is predictable and safe. However, the comfort zone is detrimental to your career growth. In a way, innovation and your comfort zone demand a personal need for intrapreneurship.

Organizational agility

Managers are like moving the Titanic, where altering course is a serious undertaking as managers are risk-averse to their ability to produce consistent and reliable deliverables. Conversely, intrapreneurs provide flexibility by understanding what the current situation to the future situation.

When the organization succeeds, you succeed!

It is that simple.  Your success will carry you to the next project.  Through a reputation of proven results, you can justify better projects and higher salaries. 

Better driver for career development by investing in yourself

When creating the future, you may not have all of the skills you need to build your future. By adding value differently, you benefit from the gained experience and knowledge you probably would not have received if you maintained the status quo.

Working as an intrapreneur can open up more doors for your career development. One path you can take is project management. What you are doing as an intrapreneur is managing a project that adds value to the organization. Another direction you can take is in change management. Depending on your organizational goal, the project you are working on involves changing processes and possibly changing culture.

I would love to hear how you have or will make work better around you!  Share your experience below, and thank you for reading!

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