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The best way towards talent management

Last updated: 13 December, 2011
Nagaraja Prakasam

Intrapreneurial Culture: Fostering innovation amongst employees, developing ideas

For any organisation, employees form an important part. Therefore, organisations must influence entrpreneurial spirit within its employees for larger growth of the economy and global competitiveness. This means there are intrapreneurs in every company.

The terms ‘intrapreneur’, ‘intrapreneuring’, and ‘intrapreneurship’ were first coined by Elizabeth and Gifford Pinchot in 1978. Later, the term was credited to Gifford Pinchot III by Norman Macrae in the April 17, 1982 issue of The Economist.

It was also used in Gifford’s book “Intrapreneuring”: Why you don’t have to leave the corporation to become an entrepreneur. He formed the term intrapreneurship as a contraction of “intra-organisational entrpreneurship” (Source: Intrapreneurship, an exploratory study of select Norwegian industries).

Intrapreneurship is the practice of entrepreneurship by employees within an organisation (Source: Paggu.com). It focuses on innovation and creativity, and transforms an idea into a profitable venture, while operating within the organisational environment.

Difference between Entrepreneur and Intrapreneur:

Entrepreneur and intrapreneur go hand-in-hand. Simply put, an entrepreneur is somebody who creates wealth out of business opportunities and an intrepreneur is someone who manages the business with entrepreneurial skills within an organisation.


Hence, it is imperative that organisations recognise the talent in their employees and provide them with a platform to come up with innovative ideas that would make an impact on the larger ecosystem.

So how important is intrapreneurship in an organisation where there is an HR that is already doing some amount of talent management? How exactly does an organisation assure minimum attrition? The key is in the word “Intrapreneurship”.

Companies today have realised that intrapreneurship contributes to the economic growth greatly and one of the ways of doing it is by introducing and implementing innovation within organisations. There is also a growing tendency among employees towards intrapreneurship.

I strongly believe that ideas are the heart of a business and every employee at some stage needs to be motivated to do something better. And intrapreneurship is a strategy for making use of talent within the organisation, nurture ideas and innovation that give employees a better chance to survive and prosper in the competitive world. Today, it is fast becoming a part of an organisation’s business model.

Intrapreneurship fosters innovation amongst employees, to give way to new ideas and to develop better products or services therefore achieving the larger vision of an organisation. This also empowers organisations to bring new ideas to logical conclusion by way of showcasing them at different forums. It is a great way to bring about a change in the organisation.

“In the organisation I represent, we create a pulsating culture of innovation where employees ideate with ease, where thinking out of the box is a habit, and where the journey of innovation is more important than the end itself. The organisation firmly believes that a culture that lends itself to innovation is a culture that paves the way to success. This can be seen through the best-in-class Innovation Culture which has been instituted to identify and reward those MNC R&D centres in India that have done exceptionally well in fostering a center-wide culture of innovation and risk-taking. Some innovation-centric activities include, a quarterly “Innovation Day” with idea submission and selection by a panel.

We have had 6 episodes so far, and over a 100 ideas have been generated; “Idea Habba” that is organized annually where employees showcase their innovation by putting up stalls to demonstrate their path-breaking ideas. Employees ideate at different levels. Some of them propose ideas, some of them work on taking ideas forward by showcasing them at various forums and some of them produce working prototypes.

Another interesting tool is the Extra Mile card, which is designed to instantly recognise individuals who have gone the “Extra Mile” - it is a way to acknowledge their extra work and effort with a token of appreciation.” Also, doesn’t Agile Development and its methodology promote Intrapreneurship. Check with Naga, but might be good to include since it shows how we employe advanced development methodologies.

To put this in perspective, an intrapreneur is really an entrepreneur with a corporation or organisation who has less risk in a venture than a traditional entrepreneur. The intrapreneur also has much less control of when, or whether, an innovative product will be launched. Being an intrapreneur or corporate entrepreneur takes a unique set of skills beyond creativity, including being willing to take some risks at sharing and pushing a unique idea.

A successful intrapreneur must have the perseverance to wait for senior management’s approval to create and launch a product or service, and the drive to see it through to fruition, no matter what (Source: Case Study of Intrapreneurship Success - WL Gore Associates, Inc).

Intrapreneurship brings together aspects of entrepreneurship, team work, motivation, innovation, freedom and fun to build an “Intrapreneur culture”. It is about being passionate and connecting and collaborating with like-minded people to come up with ideas that support the long-term vision of the company, and harnessing the talent which promotes growth for all.

While this is a popular trend amongst international organizations, Indian companies are converging and transforming policies to encourage intrapreneurial culture within organizations.

It is important that employees with entrepreneurial minds are encouraged to innovate while also facilitate them with resources that allow them to customise and quickly bring their innovations to market. It is equally important that companies are supportive of creative minds that help in tapping good opportunities, build new businesses and support the organisation’s business model and bigger goal.

It creates a culturally rich environment giving the customers the competitive edge. And if the idea is good and clear of risks then the idea must be allowed to be transformed into products, services or processes. This way organisation can foster intrapreneurship.

There could be room for failures in such situations, however, organisations should allow some level of failure around new initiatives in order to achieve big victories. I have always believed that employees must be given freedom with constraints. In a particular environment, it is alright to make mistakes, but they also should not repeat a mistake and instead try to learn from them.

Organisations should also keep in mind that there is innovation involved at every level and every kind. It is therefore in the interest of the organisation to encourage intrapreneurs to reinvent themselves in order to enhance experience, grow expectations and help deliver excellence. It is the best way to manage talent.

It also helps in the economic development of the organization in terms of employee productivity, cost-effectiveness of services and teamwork. Creative people are the need of the hour for organisations and intrapreneurship is the means to fulfill the aspirations of entrepreneurs within the organisation while facilitating them with security and access to better resources. Great intrapreneurs make great leaders!

(The writer is Managing Director, SSEA, CDC Software)

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