Intrapreneurship: A Key Driver of Innovation

In today’s competitive business world, entrepreneurs are hailed as primary innovators. Yet, the significant influence of intrapreneurs, or internal entrepreneurs, within corporations often goes unnoticed. This piece examines “A Guide for Intrapreneurs,” a chapter in Kaihan Krippendorff’s book, “Driving Innovation From Within: A Guide for Internal Entrepreneurs.” The chapter underscores the critical role of curiosity for intrapreneurs in igniting innovation from within organizations.

Dispelling the Entrepreneurial Myth

Contrary to widespread belief, the article indicates that most disruptive innovations don’t originate from young entrepreneurs in garages. Instead, they come from intrapreneurs – passionate employees within existing corporations eager to effect change. This viewpoint broadens the generally accepted understanding of where innovation arises.

Employee Innovators Deserve Recognition

Caption: This image illustrates the idea of innovation coming from within… the role of employees as intrapreneurs. Image source

The chapter points to the undervalued work of employee innovators. Without their creative persistence, pivotal developments like the internet, mobile phones, and significant medical breakthroughs wouldn’t exist. Recognizing the vital role of these employee innovators can help cultivate an innovation-friendly culture within organizations.

An Illustration of Innovation

Elliott Berman, an Exxon employee who developed an idea to make solar power more affordable, personifies the true innovation process. Through cooperative research, experimentation, and a readiness to challenge the status quo, Berman brought his innovation to market without leaving his job.

Understanding Innovation

Krippendorff delves into the core of innovation, describing it as a blend of novelty, adoption, and value. He also dispels the myth of the entrepreneurial hero, asserting that most transformative ideas come from employees, not entrepreneurs. Plus, he underlines that the journey of innovation often requires collaboration within corporate and institutional environments, in addition to competition.

Leveraging Scale as an Intrapreneur:

Intrapreneurship within established corporations offers a unique benefit—scale. The excerpt shares Heather Davis’s story, a senior managing director at TIAA. Davis utilized her role to address social concerns in agriculture by launching the Fruits of Employment program, thereby creating instant scale and making a significant impact. Intrapreneurs have the potential to harness existing resources and networks, thus enabling their innovative ideas to scale swiftly.

Curiosity as a Critical Trait

For intrapreneurs, curiosity is crucial. It leads them to discover new ideas, challenge established norms, and navigate uncharted areas within their corporations. Curiosity fuels intrapreneurs to question, seek alternative approaches, and spark innovation from within.

As an emerging entrepreneur, I find the insights in “A Guide for Intrapreneurs” illuminate the innovation potential that lies within corporations. The chapter underlines the importance of curiosity in driving intrapreneurship. We can challenge current norms, discover fresh possibilities, and aid our organizations’ growth and success by fostering curiosity. Embracing intrapreneurship equips us to become change agents, stimulate innovation from within, and significantly impact our professional sphere.