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June 30, 2022

Rise and Reign of Intrapreneurship


Gaurav Warman

Head of Training - LuLu Financial Holdings

Experts are indicating that the survival and growth of organizations are becoming challenging. The average age of an organization is continuously shrinking. These business challenges can be attributed to the VUCA threat (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity). Disruptive forces like technology and globalization are adding fuel to the fire. The laws of doing business are undergoing a change.

A few enlightened organizations have adopted a new approach called Intrapreneurship to thrive in business. Intrapreneurship helped organizations in defying the threats and disruptive forces. Apple is a great example. In this series of articles, you will learn about the potential benefits of Intrapreneurship for organizations. You will discover the success stories of intrapreneurship. You will identify methods of building a culture of intrapreneurship within the organization. So, keep reading.

We are witnessing intense competition among organizations worldwide. Consumer preferences are changing faster than ever before. A couple of decades back, consumers largely depended on TV and word of mouth to seek information for buying decisions. The information flow was either slow or moderate but not fast. It didn’t impact consumer behavior the way it is influencing today. Today information is readily available from multiple sources. Thanks to the rise of social media and smartphones. Consumers can access a plethora of information on products and services at the click of a button. They can easily compare products, and prices, to judge their value. The information gave tremendous power, transparency, and visibility to consumers. They are constantly discovering better deals on the internet. As a result, the ‘not-so-competitive’ products and services are moving out of the market sooner than ever. The responsibility to keep the product offerings competitive lies with the company’s top management. It requires them to act faster to align with the future. Innovation is a promising solution for organizations to stay competitive.

“Innovation is executing an idea which addresses a specific challenge and achieves value for both the company and customer”

– Nick Skillicorn

The harsh reality is that achieving innovation is easier said than done. Nowadays, innovation can no longer be managed by a few brainy people sitting in the top positions. Today’s demands for innovation are much greater than anyone’s imagination. Organizations need to increase the muscle power for innovation. Unless the leadership team encourages the employees to adopt an ‘entrepreneurial mindset’ to participate in the innovation process, it won’t be easy. The practice of developing an entrepreneurial mindset in employees is INTRAPRENEURSHIP. It was first coined in the 1980s by management consultants Gifford and Elizabeth Pinchot. Steve Jobs made it popular by practicing it. He once said the Macintosh team “was what is commonly known as intrapreneurship. A group of people going, in essence, back to the garage, but in a large company”.

When employees think and act like entrepreneurs, they become INTRAPRENEURS.

“Intrapreneur: An employee who is given freedom and financial support to create new products and services and systems who does not have to follow company’s usual routines and protocols”

– Richard Branson

Intrapreneurs think about increasing market share, introducing new products, reducing costs, building high-performance teams, and boosting profitability. Intrapreneurs have done wonders for organizations. Steve Jobs successfully practiced intrapreneurship at Apple in the 1980s, which made Apple the brilliant organization we know today. iPhone, launched in 2007, is a baby of intrapreneurship. A product that transformed the tech industry and the world. That’s the power of intrapreneurship.

Benefits of Intrapreneurship for organizations

There are several benefits of intrapreneurship for organizations. Some of them are –

Business Growth: It is a well-known fact that intrapreneurship facilitates innovation which leads to business growth. For example, in 2020, a portfolio that was theoretically invested in BCG’s most innovative companies would have performed 17% better than the MSCI World Index during the period 2005 to 2020.

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Increasing Sustainability: A culture of intrapreneurship within the organization increases the sustainability of the organization. World Economic Forum (2021), indicated, “Intrapreneurial talent is a critical resource for corporate innovation as business increasingly pivots towards sustainability and purpose.”.

Gaining Mindshare: Organizations gain customers’ mind share with new and improved products. Brands make a special place in the mind of consumers when the products are continuously upgraded as per their preferences. For example, Apple launched its first model in 2007 and continuously upgraded its model to reflect consumer preferences at regular intervals. iPhone 14 is slated to be released by September 2022. Apple and its products have become an essential part of consumer’s life. This is being converted into the shareholder value and the business numbers. Since 2001, Apple stocks have risen by 15,000% and reached a mark of $3 trillion market capitalization. As of 2022, a total of 2.2 billion iPhones have been sold since inception.

Building Competitive Advantage: Building a culture of intrapreneurship is not a cup of tea for many organizations. It is very tough and requires dedicated efforts by the leadership team. It is both art and science. A visionary leadership team can achieve the dream of intrapreneurship. The doors of success are then wide open for the organizations. Hence it provides a competitive advantage to the organization that practices intrapreneurship.

Building Talent Pipeline: An intrapreneur is a rare breed of employee. It takes time to recognize them as intrapreneurs. The business growth is directly proportional to the number of intrapreneurs present within the organization. Intrapreneurship opens the door for building a talent pipeline for the organization. Behind every successful organization, there is an army of intrapreneurs. And such an organization does everything possible to attract, recognize, engage, and retain key people for the longer term.

Today Intrapreneurship is adopted by many organizations worldwide. Some prominent names are Google, NESTLE, Sony, 3M, ITC India, Infosys, and Starbucks, among many others. Success stories of intrapreneurship are very inspiring. It is worth it for the organizations.

Conclusion: Innovation is the key to survival. Organizations stand a great chance to survive and grow by building a culture of intrapreneurship. To unlock the full potential of intrapreneurship, entrepreneurs must encourage employees to think and act beyond their position and titles. The presence of more intrapreneurs within the organization can add tremendous value for all the stakeholders. It is a must in today’s intensely competitive world.

I hope you found the article quite useful. In the following articles, you will explore the more success stories, and ways to build a culture of Intrapreneurship. Stay tuned and do well.

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About the author: Gaurav Warman is a Talent Development Practitioner with 15 years of experience in large organizations across Asia, Middle East, and the APAC region. In his current position as Head of Learning and Development at Lulu Financial Holdings in Abu Dhabi (UAE), he is successfully managing the talent development requirements for a large and diverse workforce across 11 countries. He has delivered over 1200 workshops, trained more than 45000 professionals, and developed over 300 training programs. He is passionate about topics such as behavioral psychology, leadership, and personal effectiveness.  He loves reading, listening to music, and cycling long-distance rides. He specializes in Executive Coaching, Talent Development, Leadership Development, Learning & Development, Quality Management, Project Management, and Keynote Speaking.