Intrapreneurship: Management and Business

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To understand the concept of intrapreneurship one must first look at its history and origin. The word intrapreneur is more than 150 years old, having come into English from French in 1828. But it is not until very recently that we find its intracorporate counterpart, intrapreneur, meaning “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."

Intrapreneur’s are people who create something new but inside an existing company rather than through a new venture. intrapreneurship is the practice of entrepreneurial skills and approaches by or within a company. An intrapreneur is a person that focuses on innovation and creativity and, who transforms a dream or and idea into a profitable venture, by operating within the organisational environment. Thus, intrapreneurs are “Inside entrepreneurs” who follow their founder’s example.

The business reasons that have led to intrapreneurship:

Some of the business reasons that have led to intrapreneurship have occurred on cultural, social and business levels. It developed in organisations due to employees’ boredom with the typical corporate organisational structure. These individuals dislike the climate of corporate culture, its conservativeness, whereby they must follow management’s instruction. The idea of “doing your own thing” has a strong appeal to these individuals. They frequently desire to create something of their own. They want responsibility and want more freedom in their work environment. Frustration can develop and result in the employee becoming less productive or leaving the organisation to achieve self-actualisation elsewhere. This has recently caused more discontent in structured organisations. When meaning is not provided within the organisation individuals often search for an institution, such as intrapreneurship, that will provide it. Businesses now turn to intrapreneurship as a means to encourage more innovative solutions to corporate problems, to gain a competitive lead in the marketplace and lastly, to take advantage of any opportunities that may arise. Businesses now want their employees to take a more active role within the organisation, to take more responsibility, be more creative and develop visions to improve the business, product or workplace. It’s no surprise that this system of business is creating more goodwill among management and employees compared to the traditional corporate management structure.

In Gilbert Pinchots book, “Intrapreneuring: Why You Don’t Have to Leave the Corporation to Become an Entrepreneur”, there are Ten Commandments set out for intrapreneurs to follow. They are as follows:

1. Build your team, intrapreneuring is not a solo activity. 2. Share credit widely.
3. Ask for advice before you ask for resources.
4. Underpromise and overdeliver – publicity triggers the corporate immune system. 5. Do any job needed to make your dream work, regardless of your job description. 6. Remember, it is easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission. 7. Keep the best interest of the company and its customers in mind, especially when you have to bend the ruled or circumvent the bureaucracy. 8. Come to work each day willing to be fired.

9. Be true to your goals, but be realistic about how to achieve them. 10. Honour and educate your sponsors

Intrapreneurship is one method for stimulating and capitalising on those who think that something can be done differently and possibly better. One such example is the Xerox Corporations commitment to Xerox Technology Ventures (XTV), they support intrapreneurial processes. Most people would think of Xerox as a large bureaucratic Fortune 100 company. Although this may in part be true, Xerox has done something unique in trying to insure that its creative employees do not leave, like Steve Jobs...
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