The Intrapreneur and Value Creation

The entrepreneur's mindset has little to do with building a business and more to do with developing necessary skills. Neil Kane, Michigan State University Director of Undergraduate Entrepreneurship and Innovation, shares:

”These include: initiative and self-direction, risk-taking, flexibility and adaptability, creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving. Other definitions include the ability to see opportunities, marshal resources and create value.”

If you focus on the skills mentioned above: do you think those skills are exclusive to entrepreneurs? Or could those same skills help you succeed within a business where you are an employee?

Eric Reis, the author of The Lean Startup, shares:

”Entrepreneurs who operate inside an established organization sometimes are called “intrapreneurs” because of the special circumstances that attend building a startup within a larger company.”

I have a life long friend that was hired to work at a Fortune 500 company. He was recruited to lead a newly formed team whose main responsibility was to behave like intrapreneurs — to see opportunities, marshal resources and create value.

Reis continues:

”I have come to believe that intrapreneurs have much more in common with the rest of the community of entrepreneurs than most people believe.”

I recently spoke with my friend and asked him why did the company take on this new mindset. He explains the CEO is looking at new management disciplines. Essentially, the CEO wants to cultivate innovation from the bottom-up.

The mindset is entrepreneurial and focuses on:

  • Fast cycle testing
  • Pivoting based on customer feedback
  • Uncovering new sources of value

Reis makes an excellent argument:

”The amount of time a company can count on holding on to market leadership to exploit its earlier innovations is shrinking, and this creates an imperative for even the most entrenched companies to invest in innovation. In fact, I believe that a company’s only sustainable path to long-term economic growth is to build an “innovation factory” that uses Lean Startup techniques to create disruptive innovations on a continuous basis.”

My friend and his team have capitalized on some opportunities and have added value to both company and customer. As a result, the mindset has slowly infected other parts of the company; he is witnessing re-birth of culture, focusing on intrapreneurship.