Intrapreneurship is the buzzword of the moment in many companies. It is the identification and promotion of creative and motivated employees within a company, with the goal of realizing exciting new business ideas. The ongoing trend is based on the assumption that innovative ideas are not only generated by external start-ups. On the contrary: In most organizations, there is great innovation potential within the company, namely among its employees. Any company can start an intrapreneurship-program, however, we want to tell you some things that you should take into consideration when doing it. We have collaborated with more than 10 companies and around 200 intrapreneurs that are part of our Kickbox Community. Based on this experience, we have identified five key success factors that seem to be decisive for the implementation and anchoring of intrapreneurship in the company.
No hasty assessment
Youtube, the world’s largest video portal, originally started with the idea of a dating platform. Since many ideas are still changing when entrepreneurs set out to create a startup, it is hardly possible to evaluate them objectively at an early stage. Only when an idea has been further developed and validated with customers can its true potential be recognized. Accordingly, it makes sense to test out as many ideas as possible, to see which ones could possibly work out. Often times it is an initially inconspicuous idea that ultimately turns out to be real champion!
Commitment of the management team
Although intrapreneurship is referred to as “bottom-up innovation” (i.e. initiated by employees) the commitment of management is crucial.
While management usually gives the go-ahead for an intrapreneurship initiative, it is ultimately the responsibility of all managers to create the supporting, favorable conditions. Young ideas can only flourish if the intrapreneurs are provided with the necessary resources (especially in the form of working hours), and the projects are treated with the necessary priority.
The decision-makers deciding over the fate of individual ideas must have relevant know-how. It is impossible to judge a start-up by the same criteria as a traditional corporate project. It is extremely important to set up a competent decision-making body that knows exactly which criteria are relevant for the assessment of an early-stage start-up. For example, the initial focus should be on validation with potential customers and market potential to ensure that there is a real need.
An inspiring environment
A physical and mental distance to our everyday job sometimes does wonders. In order to come up with truly innovative ideas, it is imperative to look beyond the companies we currently work for. And it’s easier to do that, if you can refine your idea in a new, creative environment away from your desk. And even better, if you can discuss it with people outside your company – ideally potential customers. With the weekly TGIF events, BlueLion provides such freedom for intrapreneurs of different companies.
Willingness to experiment
Innovation goes hand in hand with experimentation, setbacks, and – often times – failure. Many large companies are not familiar with this way of working and will need time to work their way around these sometimes unstructured processes. However, the willingness to embrace this new approach is crucial, if we want to give new ideas the space they need to grow. Many of the initial ideas will ultimately not be implemented. This makes it all the more important to understand intrapreneurship projects as an adventure experiment, the success of which should not be measured in the implementation, but in the lean validation of the ideas.
Intrapreneurship is not witchcraft. If all participants are on board, nothing keeps you from successful innovation. Want to try it out? BlueLion is happy to support you in piloting our highly successful Kickbox program. Reach out to us at info@bluelion, and we can tell you more about our Kickbox program and Community. We are looking forward to hearing from you!