Foster a culture of ‘intrapreneurialism’

by Rose Sneyd24 Jul 2013

By encouraging a culture of ‘intrapreneurialism,’ big organisations could help their employees adopt entrepreneurial behaviours that foster innovation and growth, and ultimately boost the economy, according to CIPD research.

The term, ‘intrapreneur’, was coined in the 1980s to describe those employees who work in larger organisations where they develop new ideas in an entrepreneur-like fashion, only they don’t run their own business.

According to research by the CIPD, more than one third (37%) of employees would welcome the opportunity to take on an ‘intrapreneurial’ role with their organisation, but only 12% of organisations actually facilitate this sort of work. Given the contribution of entrepreneurs and smaller organisations to the economy, the CIPD believes that all organisations should adopt an entrepreneurial approach to business.

Top five secrets to success, according to Claire McCartney of the CIPD:


  1. “Purposeful Profit – it’s ok to care”: “Entrepreneurs have a genuine desire to make a sustainable difference to their local communities and beyond and instil these values throughout their organisations.”
  2. “One part entrepreneurial = twenty parts reach and impact”: Entrepreneurial organisations punch way above their weight due to their peculiar style of leadership and their smart use of social media, networking and forging multiple strategic alliances
  3. “Deep and deliberate co-creation with customers”: Entrepreneurs listen closely to their customers, and use their ideas and requirements to evolve the business. “This involvement goes way beyond simple one-sided communication to active involvement in shaping and even sponsorship of business strategy."
  4. “Headspace for innovation – support your hidden intrapreneurs”: Entrepreneurial organisations focus on employee innovation. "They do this by supporting intrapreneurs using innovation days and cross-team working.”
  5. “Go forward with failure”: Entrepreneurial organisations do not hold back from innovation due to a fear of failure. “They recognise that in order to create and innovate some failure is inevitable and realise the great potential in learning from mistakes and failures and even publicising these as part of the learning process.”


While the entrepreneurial edge may wane as start-ups grow, this doesn’t have to be the case. “The companies we’ve spoken to have proven that even the larges organisations can retain an innovative edge if they pay close attention to attracting, retaining, engaging, and developing the right talent to live and breathe the values of the founders,” McCartney said.


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