IdeaComb Blog

Intrapreneurship : An approach to fuel innovation

“Entrepreneur” should be considered a job title in all modern companies that depend on innovation for their future growth
… Eric Ries, The Lean Startup

“Napkin to IPO” a pretty common phrase in Silicon Valley one get to hear. Essentially it drives the message of how some of the great ideas on a piece of napkin emerged over a period into successful businesses and in turn successful IPOs.

Such startup stories are always inspiring and many times you envy the entrepreneurs who made such ventures a success. Though, one doesn’t get to see the blood and sweat that goes in while building such startups. Behind each successful startup , there are lots of failures as well and the entrepreneurship is all about bouncing back and moving onto a next big thing.

Entrepreneurs are everywhere, Eric Ries puts it in his book “The Lean Startup”. For most organizations it’s a challenge as well as opportunity to tap into such talent and harvest it for further innovation & growth. Nurturing entrepreneurial talent within an organization is called as “intrapreneurship”.

Intrapreneur, to mean “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”


For most large corporations, it’s a huge challenge on how to foster culture of intrapreneurship. In a knowledge economy, Intrapreneurship is a better way to retain talent in an organization providing growth opportunities for the individuals as well as for the organization. Promoting intrapreneurship in an organization is not an easy task for any executive leadership. It calls for a significant cultural change in an organization.

In order to promote the culture of intrapreneurship, many organizations have been trying various methods. Google’s famous 20% time allocation to work on your favorite idea/project has been a key element in their campaign to attract new talent. This certainly fuels a culture of “work is fun” and innovation will be a by product of such a culture. While Silicon Valley technology companies might embrace the google model, for other industries, Innovation management is serious business and turning around innovative ideas into breakthrough products, services or process improvements is a longer cycle. Also, in most cases these are major investment decisions.

This is where the culture of intrapreneurship can significantly change the game where employees are not just being looked at as mere contributors to ideas but are empowered to build and nurture new ideas into profitable businesses. What is needed is providing the much needed freedom of operation and accountability provided to such talented individuals.

Current generation Idea Management tools embrace the social media technologies and game mechanics to help identify such talent in an organization by way of identifying Top Idea Contributors, Top Influencers , Top consensus builders through the interactions taking place at networked (social) workplace.

Fostering intrapreneurship needs a right blend of cultural change, process adoption & a set of tools facilitating the process. More importantly, the executive leadership need to relinquish their powers & embrace the mantra of “LET GO TO GROW” as next generation intrapreneurs make their way through the organization.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to your comments/suggestions.
Posted in Idea Management, Innovation Management