ACE of Intrapreneurship
“Many millions of people proudly claim the title “entrepreneur.” On the other hand, a title that hasn’t gotten nearly the amount of attention it deserves is entrepreneur’s little brother, “intrapreneur”: “an employee who is given freedom and financial support to create new products, services and systems, who does not have to follow the company’s usual routines or protocols.” While it’s true that every company needs an entrepreneur to get it under way, healthy growth requires a smattering of intrapreneurs who drive new projects and explore new and unexpected directions for business development”- Sir Richard Branson
ACE of Intrapreneurship
The term ‘intrapreneurs’ was first coined in the 1980s by management consultant Gifford Pinchot (Investopedia, 2012). The American Heritage Dictionary defines an intrapreneur as a person within a large corporation who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product through assertive risk-taking and innovation (Wikipedia,n.d). Companies like Google, 3M, Virgin, Adobe etc. have a company culture of promoting intrapreneurship. For instance, Adobe recently launched an incubation program. Employees initiate ideas and after approval, these ideas get the support from Adobe’s global expert pool for further development. In addition to an initial funding, the idea initiator also gets a 6-12 months window period to work on it (IBEF, 2009).
In simple words, intrapreneurship at any level (individual, group or organization) fundamentally involves taking ownership, i.e., operating with an entrepreneurial mindset (Seshadri & Tripathy, 2006,p17).It allows an employee to apply inherent business and technical skills to innovate new products, processes or services there by adding value to the broader goals and objectives of the organisation. Intrapreneurship helps foster innovation and creativity and invigorates the organisation. Few elements are a must have for in individual Intrapreneurship – Acumen, Capital and Enterprise (ACE).
ACE Of Intrapreneurship:
I believe intrapreneurship is more behavior led than anything else. One has to have the passion to surge ahead no matter how strong the obstacles are. It is about making a perfect equation with the ACE (Acumen, Capital and Enterprise) factors (briefly explained in Exhibit 1).
Be it within the shell of an organisation or outside of it, the ACE factors enables the phenomenon to take place, leading to enhanced innovation and productivity, employee engagement, customer satisfaction and improved financial performance (outlined in Exhibit 2).
There are examples galore that intrapreneurship may also be a pathway to entrepreneurship and vice versa. For example, Steve Jobs regarded himself both as intrapreneur and entrepreneur whereas co-founder of Apple Corporation, Wozniak worked at Hewlett Packard when he and Jobs first experimented with creating a personal computer (Haller, 2012). Cross over does happen for the (intra)entre/preneurship story to continue.
…Andthe story continues
Once formed, the (intra) entre / preneurship takes its own toll – passing through the business lifecycle stages of initiation, growth, saturation and beyond.With dynamic business environments and multiple variables, organisations around the world encounter the challenge to recognise uncertainty and take remedial measures on time, every time. Any uncertainty a business or enterprise faces will heighten the pressures for the organisation to be vigilant and creative in ensuring business viability. During such periods, productivity in general, and innovation in particular, will be the order of the day (Rowley, Mukherjee Saha & Ang, 2011, p113-114). To summarise, the contemporary business environment certainly promotes the essence of (intra) entre/ preneurship- which, as noted in the following quote from AppleInc.,is here to stay.
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently…
You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them, disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is, ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward. While some see them as the crazy ones, we see them as genius. Because, the people, who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do”.
—“Here’s to the Crazy Ones,”
The Apple Creed, www.apple.com
About the Author: Jayantee Mukherjee
Saha,PhD (Mgt-Cont.), MPhil. (Mgt), MBA (HRM), BSc, Cert. (Human Rights), Cert. (How to tackle discrimination in the world of work- ILO) she is the Director and Principal Consultant of Aei4eiA, a Sydneybased specialized management research and consultancy firm. Prior to this, she worked as Consultant to the Australian Institute of Management, Principal Researcher at Singapore Human Resources Institute. She has been working closely with Government, public sector agencies, multinational corporations etc. across 7 countries. She has over 38 publications to her credit. A book titled ‘Succeed or Sink: Business Sustainability under globalisation’ coauthored by her was recently published by Chandos, Oxford, UK. This article is based on this book. She can be reached at-