High five: The best examples of intrapreneurship in action

13 August 2015 -

“PS1

What does Sony’s PlayStation have in common with Facebook’s Like button?

Here’s how some of the world’s largest firms are promoting the concept of intrapreneurship

Jermaine Haughton

It’s getting harder and harder for large companies to retain their brightest employees. Unhappy at having their creativity stifled by excessive bureaucracy, they are opting to join startup ventures, where they are granted more freedom, in order to nourish their imagination.

But some companies have adopted a new way of keeping this budding entrepreneurial talent in-house – by allowing staff to nurture and fulfil their innovative desires. Insights looks at some of the best examples of intrapreneurship.

1. Sony

It might be the best-selling console in the world today, but Sony’s PlayStation only happened because a junior employee tinkered with his daughter’s Nintendo.

Ken Kutaragi spent hours trying to make the console more powerful and user-friendly but his idea was reportedly rebuffed by many Sony bosses – hesitant at joining a gaming industry they considered a waste of time. One senior employee spotted value in Kutaragi’s innovative product and the rest, as they say, is history.

2. Facebook

One of the most documented initiatives associated with the rise of the social-networking behemoth has been its infamous “hack-a-thons”; all-night competitions for coders and engineers to develop an idea into a prototype. Facebook’s ‘Like’ button was born from the event, and has since become synonymous with the brand.

3. Lockheed Martin

Working as an autonomous and small team within the firm, the Skunks Works project – led by Kelly Johnson – created innovative aircraft models for Lockheed Martin, including the SR71. The example reflects the need for large employers to give talented workers both support and the space to think creatively on projects, whereby they can define their own plan.

4. Dreamworks

The creators of several Hollywood movie franchises, including Shrek and Madagascar, encourages all staff – regardless of job title – to be part of the filmmaking process by sending in their own ideas.

The employer also invests in its staff by providing access to courses such as artist development; giving them the skills, knowledge and aptitudes to pitch the next blockbuster animation. Dan Satterthwaite, head of human resources explained: “We challenge all our employees to be their own CEOs.”

5. Intel

Known for investing in Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, Intel decided to start investing in the ideas of its own staff in 1998 with its "new business initiative."

A year after its creation, more than 400 ideas were pitched by employees – with over two dozen receiving funding. One of its most successful ventures has been the Vivonic Fitness Planner founded by former Intel engineer Paul Scagnetti, which helped users meet nutrition and exercise goals.

Additional reporting by Blayne Pereira. Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Powered by Professional Manager