Pursuing intrapreneurship: How to behave like an entrepreneur while working within a large organization

Michelle Kolenz

Account Manager

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

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Cincinnati is quickly becoming known as a hotspot for startups. Around the city, startup support companies and inspirational conferences are the new norm. We are very familiar with the term “entrepreneurship” in this city, but what about “intrapreneurship?” When I learned that this year’s Bold Fusion topic would be intrapreneurship, I jumped at the opportunity to attend the conference.

What is intrapreneurship?

Intrapreneurers are disruptive. Not disruptive like that kid in class who prevented everyone from getting work done…Disruptive like bringing to light topics and ideas that a team might not have originally seen. They take the norm of the company - whether it be procedures, methods, styles, etc. - and paint a new picture.

Intrapreneurs can spot trends before they even happen. They can cultivate their ideas into executional plans. Change isn't a threat to them. They pivot with grace when faced with speed bumps or other challenges. And most importantly, they are driven by a passion - a passion that is deep rooted and serves a higher purpose.

Thanks to keynote speaker, Chitra Anand. She made the qualities that make an intrapreneur crystal clear.

Then the question became, “How can I take this information back and apply it with my team? Do I have what it takes to be an intrapreneur?” The answer for everyone should be “YES!”

After listening to the line-up of speakers, their personal experiences and how they demonstrate intrapreneurship, I wanted to share how you could take their experiences and disrupt your workplace.

How to disrupt

Let's shake stuff up! Ross Meyer, Vice President of Community Impact for United Way of Greater Cincinnati, shared steps for effective disruption:

  1. Build urgency
  2. Make the case for the head and the heart
  3. Recruit a coalition of the willing
  4. Do, learn and pivot
  5. Get out of the way

How to spot trends

You can identify trends by observing the field that interests you, reading and then conversing with others about what they are experiencing. Valerie Jacobs, Chief Insight and Innovation Officer at LPK, said, “Ping the universe.” Find out what experts know and identify patterns. Then crosscheck the patterns in another field.

How to cultivate ideas

Valerie had a great take on this: “Have conversations with people and let them ask questions.” Let them pick apart your ideas with devil's advocate-type questions. Having the mindset of willingness to receive constructive criticism will only strengthen your ideas, not break them apart. Showcase viewpoints that you might not of originally thought of and cultivate your ideas into something magical. Valerie encouraged us, saying, “Open your head, your heart and your network.”

How to pivot with grace

Change and challenges throughout your life, both personally and professionally, are inevitable. How you handle these experiences will define you. As difficult as it can be, try to handle these moments gracefully and know that they will lead you to the place you were always meant to be.

How to identify your passion

“Live a life that is curated,” said Chitra Anand, intrapeneurship expert and former Microsoft exec (pictured above). A diverse mind is important in identifying key passion points. What makes us unique is that we are all driven by different passions. These passions drive us to be knowledgeable and this pursuit strengthens the end result of our work.

Tony Blankemeyer, Startup Liaison and Data Commercialization Lead for 84.51˚, said, “Find your MAP (Mastery, Autonomy, Purpose). What is your thing? Find it. Do it well.”

In the end, remember, “If you’re lucky enough to do well, it’s your responsibility to send the elevator back down.” – Kevin Spacey



(Image: Intrapeneur expert and former Microsoft exec Chitra Anand; Source: Hype Cincinnati)

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