Intrapreneurs: The Rise Of The Organizational Innovators
There was a time when working in a 9 to 5 schedule was the norm for most employees. No, this is not an ancient times scenario but something as recent as two to three decades back. The employees in those days followed the instructions of their bosses to the T. They were hardly expected or encouraged to think and perform beyond their given scope of work.
However, times have drastically changed. Now employees are more given more freedom and are empowered to make their own decisions. But, with empowerment comes responsibility and accountability. Welcome to the age of the intrapreneur!
Who Is An Intrapreneur?
The word “intrapreneur” actually indicates an inside entrepreneur. The dictionary definition would be “an employee of a large corporation who is given freedom and financial support to create new products, services, systems, etc., and does not have to follow the corporation's usual routines or protocols.”.
This person displays entrepreneurial skills by virtue. The person is assigned the responsibility to use those skills and develop a new service or product. In a way, an intrapreneur would be a person who is bold enough to take up new initiatives.
Why Do We Need Intrapreneurs?
Intrapreneurs are more likely to be highly engaged in their work. The idea behind it was highlighted in a prominent article, published a couple of years back, in Harvard Business Review by Sumantra Ghoshal titled – “Beware the Busy Manager.”
The article outlined the Focus-Energy matrix, which classified people into four categories: Purposeful, Disengaged, Procrastinated, and Distracted. Among these four, the Purposeful or the Engaged employees may also be termed as Intrapreneurs. They are highly focused people who can get their team members involved in lieu of their amazing energy and determination.
In a nutshell, intrapreneurs serve as catalysts in the growth of an organization.
Moreover, with organizations having a workforce spread worldwide with matrix reporting structures, it is crucial to have self-driven employees and take ownership.
How Does One Become An Intrapreneur?
Now that we have understood the meaning and importance of intrapreneurs, we need to understand how to encourage future intrapreneurs in the organization. There are essentially two fundamental attributes that make an intrapreneur- Talent and Passion.
Every person has some talent, i.e., everyone in the world possesses some form of expertise or other. Talent would mean the abilities and knowledge that a person owns or has learned over the years.
Some of you may have seen the movie McFarland. The coach Jim White joins the McFarland High school in California as an assistant football coach. He discovers that some of his students are strong runners and can get authorization from the school principal to cross country races. He goes through a dedicated practice regime, and the team wins their first State title. However, they already had the inherent talent.
Talent may also be developed by consistent and persistent effort. Malcolm Gladwell, in his famous book ‘Outliers,’ mentions the 10,000-hour rule. The validity of this rule may have been questioned by many. But what this means is, a person who spends a couple of hours every day on an activity may have spent around 10,000 hours over 10 years. Ten years is a pretty long period to get proficient in any skillset.
But, every day, we read about various talented people who suffer from depression and feel unworthy. They are not leading a purposeful life; they are merely letting it pass by.
This gives rise to the question- Why are talented people more susceptible to such feelings? Was it because they joined an industry attracted by the status and high remuneration that it promised? However, money alone cannot be the source of motivation for too long.
Numerous reports and accounts tell us that most of the population is not happy with their current profession. Interestingly enough, this stands true across economic divisions. People at the top are just as disgruntled and dissatisfied as people at the lower rung of the economic ladder.
A lot of this has got to do with the way that Indian society has been influenced. Traditionally we have looked up to some professions as being nobler. At the same time, various other occupations don’t garner the same level of respect. When society tries to herd capable individuals towards a handful of "deserving" professions, we create individuals who lack the zeal and creativity.
This leads us to a critical question - Is talent enough to become an intrapreneur?
Well, not really. An equally essential attribute has passion! This is what makes one strive and achieve what one intended to do. Which are the activities which one could be doing for hours together without getting tired? This boils down to one’s liking and interests.
As Carmine Gallo asks in one of his books, “What makes my heart sing?” How does one find out? Well, as with all matters of the heart, one knows when it does!
It is important to be talented but equally important to be passionate about the same activity. This is an important subject covered in greater detail in a book titled “Be Your Boss” by Vikas Bansal.
If one has the talent and the passion for an activity, then one is in for the long haul. The person is on track to be a rockstar employee, the new age intrapreneur.