Intrapreneurship: the Future for Organisations

Thursday 13 August 2015
Can in-house entrepreneurial thinking motivate employees in large companies and public-sector organisations?

Ultimo founder Michelle Mone has been appointed as the government’s “entrepreneur tsar”, with a mandate to encourage new businesses in areas of high unemployment. However, starting a business is tricky even in the best of environments; what can existing firms do to futureproof themselves? How can they attract and retain some of the brightest entrepreneurial minds?

Over time, the flexibility and creativity present in startups and smaller businesses can be lost as they grow into major corporations with thousands of employees, strict codes of practice and key decision makers spread across the world.

The resulting stifling of innovation can leave firms at a standstill, while slimmer competitors catch and surpass them: Blockbuster and Woolworths are prime examples.

Equally, skilled and ambitious workers can feel lost in the chaos of large multinationals. The result? They leave en masse to join startups – unsatisfied with both their lack of autonomy and the red tape negating their entrepreneurial instincts.

Many larger firms have found the concept of ‘intrapreneurships’ to be a happy medium between fulfilling their own needs as a company and those of their employees.

The intrapreneurship model has become a crucial method for many firms looking to stay on top of the latest trends and innovations, as well as giving staff the opportunity to create their own projects within their organisation, providing a greater sense of career fulfilment.

According to auditor EY, there are six vital tactics which are needed to successfully integrate intrapreneurships with company operations:

  • Implement a formal structure that allows intrapreneurship to take place: give staff one working day per week to focus solely on their project, for example.
  • Ask your employees for ideas: they have their fingers on the pulse of the marketplace. Encourage them to contribute to the innovation dialogue.
  • Assemble a diverse workforce: a plethora of research shows multifaceted teams devise the most innovative ideas.
  • Design a career path for your intrapreneurs: show how their ideas can boost their own responsibilities and rewards within the company.
  • Explore government incentives for innovation: look for new tax breaks and research and development funding.
  • Prepare for the pitfalls of intrapreneurship: not all ideas will produce successful new products.