If we start with the origin – entrepreneur – then I would claim that we are all already entrepreneurs; we humans have an innate desire and ability to be creative and create, to find solutions and to test if they work.
It is also interesting to note that the definition of entrepreneurship is changing; today the entrepreneur is associated with a person who sees opportunities dare to push them. (Forbes.com 14 05 2013). The new definition hasn’t anything to do with starting a business; the entrepreneurs may therefore as well be found within the organization. So, that is where we find them: the intrapreneurs.
Why are intrapreneurs so important both today and in the future? One reason is the rapid and constant change. We must utilize the opportunities that occur to continue to be relevant. Another is digitalization. As we move towards having more robots and AI in working life, it will be our creativity and imagination that pays the bills - simply because those factors cannot be digitalized.
However, to see and to make use of opportunities and to be creative requires training. As we know, our brain is more susceptible to negative information than positive (called negativity bias). We must therefore actively work to focus on solutions instead of ending up in the ”it’s not possible” loop. In self-leadership, there are some key factors to help us; Our passionate commitment, our inner motivation, is the engine that drives us forward. A prerequisite to trigger our inner motivation is that we need to manage and control our own work. If we also add the experience of developing and connecting what we do to something meaningful, a higher purpose, and we’re all set.
"Practice seeing opportunities. Take meaningful risks! Release your beta version"
Another key is to stop thinking of innovation as something to be treated so seriously. In order to become intrapreneurs, we must dare to fail. Development and innovation are about exploring the unknown – and this brings the risk things will not turn out as planned (but in fact, that is how many really successful innovations have come about). I mean that we should see our work and ourselves as constant beta versions. Yes, there are bugs, but the only way to know what these are and how they should be addressed is to get out and test. The organization must allow and encourage failures. Sloppiness and nonchalance are of course not acceptable, but failure for the sake of development is good - even desirable - when it comes to becoming innovative intrapreneurs.
The fact that more organizations open up for everyone to participate in innovation and development work is good news. More people will lead to better ideas. And as all entrepreneurs know, there are no ”self-made millionaires”. Instead, it’s about surrounding yourself with people who complement you. Here the intrapreneur has a pole position - they already belong to a team. When the team gets to know each other’s strengths and special interests, innovation can accelerate.
Organizations that work actively to develop self-leadership and allow self-government to create good conditions for intrapreneurship. By training change agents tasked with developing development and innovation efforts, these possibilities are maximized. Provide them with the tools and knowledge to involve and support their colleagues, customers, partners, whoever is necessary to put their creativity into action and contribute.