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If you’ve found yourself constantly questioning the “unwritten rule book” or being attacked by the “corporate immune system,” you may have something new to learn about your own identity. You could be an intraprenuer!

Intrapreneurship: The act of behaving like an entrepreneur while working within a large organization. Commonly known as a best-practice style of corporate management, it integrates risk-taking and innovation approaches as well as reward and motivational techniques.

Have you realized that what drives you is a bit different than what may drive many of your successful colleagues? Me too. Luckily, I work for a company that provides opportunities for bringing value into my business area by exercising this part of my personality. However, this is not the case for everyone.

The good news is that it’s never too late to embrace your inner-intrapreneur and apply it in a way that benefits you, your team, your organization, your company, and your customers. The bad news? That depends on your willingness to flex your intraprenuer muscle.

Four things that drive intraprenuership

David K. Williams, a serial entrepreneur and contributor, wrote a great blog a few years ago that outlines four essential traits of intrapreneurs. For the most part, I agree with him. But, there are a few additional aspects about each trait that warrant some attention.

  1. The love of value – and a little bit of money. How does an intrapreneur measure success? Usually, money is not the driving force. Intrapreneurs focus on supporting business priorities and adding value. Money matters, but it’s not typically the driving metric for an intrapreneur. The key is to spend less time justifying your value and focus your attention on adding value.
  2. An affinity for greenhousing. This trait hits home for me – mentally and physically. A couple of years ago, one of my mentors was concerned over my inclination for collecting random things and ideas that, when combined, do not make sense. After some discussion, we agreed that I gather intriguing ideas that germinate and grow in the back of my mind and eventually emerge as a concept and real product or service.
  3. Knowing when to pivot, pivot, pivot! I know this term is overused. However, inside corporations, an intrapreneur must know how to pivot as a means for survival. I’ve had initiatives that cross multiple years of organizational change and transition. Keep your eye on the value, get up every day and move the line, and don’t get caught up in the politics. Stay on the balls of your feet and pivot as necessary.
  4. Authenticity and integrity. It’s true that these attributes are touted as necessary for successful leadership and often cited as core corporate values. However, as intraprenuers, they are boundaries for decision making. I love this simple definition my wife has for integrity – aligning what you say you’re going to do and what you actually do. When you inevitably hit internal friction when casting a vision and gaining consensus, you will be challenged to keep things on track. Never sacrifice your authenticity and integrity to clear a path for your projects – it’s never worth the risk.

As we start a new year, I predict that the entrepreneurial mindset will converge into the corporate innovation process. Personally, I am excited about the potential of this movement as a springboard for corporate business models and new systems that accurately reflect how businesses can be successful in a post-convergence world.

In future posts, I plan to share my experiences from a large initiative to provide some context and insight into how these traits can be applied in real life.

In the meantime, tune into the intrapreneurs among you. I’d love to hear about how you are turning intriguing ideas into reality!