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Intrapreneurship: Three Steps to Project Success

Today, modern companies, small and large, face a tough competitive environment. This remains true especially in a digital age where trends and technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, 5G, autonomous vehicles and smart cities will play a huge role in every industry over the coming years.

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Due to this digital transformation and movement, enterprises are required to adopt a high level of innovation on a continuous basis in order to remain relevant and successful.

Instead of generating new ideas and teams or departments and branching out into new markets, many companies are focusing on their current infrastructure and business opportunities, optimising and streamlining processes and capitalising on current revenue streams.

This has proven to be successful for some businesses, but for others, it has resulted in business acquisition, mergers and unfortunately in most cases, bankruptcy and are no longer significant.

Every company should, therefore, not only exploit and optimise their current products, services and processes but also harness innovation by leveraging existing resources and employees. This is a sure way to lasting business growth and profitability.

This whitepaper will guide you and your company through the term intrapreneurship, how it compares with corporate entrepreneurship, the benefits and how to integrate it into the DNA of your organisation.

Over the next few pages, we’ll also be outlining three steps of intrapreneurship in order to achieve project success, which will help your business understand how to remain people-centric in our innovative approach, how to recognise them and encourage overall growth, culture and talent.

In short, the key learnings are:

Learning #1: Embrace agile and lean: think big, start small, iterate often

Learning #2: Get high-level sponsoring to protect against inertia

Learning #3: Be removed from the corporate environment

Our research is backed by relevant evidence and shown through case studies of clients we’ve worked with that have seen success from adopting intrapreneurial practices and methods.

What is an intrapreneur?


noun [ C ] UK ​ /ˌɪntrəprəˈnɜːr/ US ​

an employe within a large company who takes direct responsibility for turning an innovative idea into a profitable new product, service, business, etc., often, instead of leaving to start their own company:

Intrapreneurs are special people and are also quite difficult to spot, especially within a large business that has a wide range of skill sets and talent. 

So what is an intrapreneur? 

Intrapreneurs are individuals that apply entrepreneurial principles and mindset but work within established organisations to drive change and bring new ideas to life. They tend to be committed to innovation, are passionate about their company’s cause and intrinsically driven to produce higher value and success.

They have an entrepreneurial spirit, foster new ideas, have a willingness to take calculated risks and have a desire to facilitate business growth and success over financial reward; in return, they want to receive support and resources to help their ideas to become a reality.

What is described here may seem too good to be true, but some employees are willing to put your company’s interests first and are in some cases, already working for you.

Where did intrapreneurship come from?

Gifford Pinchot iii, a sustainable business school founder, coined the term intrapreneur in 1978 and defined it as “dreamers who do. Those who take hands-on responsibility for creating innovation of any kind, within a business.” 

Pinchot has also written an intrapreneur’s ten commandments, which includes rules, such as “do any job needed to make your project work, regardless of your job description” and “it is easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission”.

Richard Branson is also a huge advocate of intrapreneurship as he agrees that they "are employees who do for corporate innovation what an entrepreneur does for his or her start-up." 

An employee who is given financial support and autonomy to create new products, services and systems for the benefit of the company will have the drive and genuine interest to lead projects and explore new and unexpected directions for business development.

Are you an intrapreneur?  

If you are a successful intrapreneur and you’re heading down that pathway or your company has one somewhere within the team, this whitepaper will give you insight into how projects succeed in the corporate outsourced product environment.

We will present our three key learnings for intrapreneurial success from a selection of stakeholders who’ve been there already, learnt the lessons, and then worked with Theodo to leapfrog the challenges and create game-changing digital products within weeks, rather than months.

The post-it note

Look at your desk. Chances are, you will see one of the best inventions of all time: the post-it note. 

Where did the Post-it note come from? It came from the intrapreneurship of a chemist, Spencer Silver, in 1968, who developed a low tack adhesive while working for 3M, an American, multinational conglomerate operating in the worker safety, health care and consumer goods industries. 

By 1977, he had convinced the organisation to produce the popular desk accessory and by the end of his career, Silver had filed for a total of 22 patents. 

It is quite clear that he had a creative mindset with financial backing by 3M and although the concept of intrapreneurship hadn’t officially been coined, it has certainly been a strong trend over the years.

Other corporate giants are still adopting the content, such as DreamWorks and Google. Employees at Google are able to dedicate a few hours every week to work on innovative projects that they are personally interested in and this is one of the reasons why they have remained successful.

Intrapreneurs are naturally creative and the more they can express themselves, the more effective they’ll be at project delivery. If your organisation can support this and provide everything the intrapreneur requires, you will both succeed.

Our Intrapreneurship Whitepaper

If this introduction to intrapreneurship is a concept and method that your organisation could benefit from and one that drives innovation, then our whitepaper can guide you through three steps to successful project management.

Theodo is a software development agency that can build and develop web, mobile and software applications in weeks instead of months. Our London team of full-stack developers and agile experts bring together the tech, the talent and the experience to develop your web, mobile and software applications in record time. Discuss your project with us today.