The Case For “Business Builders” (intrapreneurship) in the Modern Organization

Karl R. LaPan President & CEO, The NIIC

Entrepreneurship gets its share of press, but intrapreneurship is its lesser- known relative. While I dislike the term intrapreneurship, I prefer the term ‘business builder’. Business builders can be growing or building any type of organization – for profit, non-profit, educational and government. There is a myriad of reasons why it’s important, and how it can benefit an organization. Here are 5 reasons:

1. Growth: The goal of intrapreneurship is to foster an entrepreneurial mindset needed to take growth to the next level. Intrapreneurship does just that, by encouraging employees to think beyond the present realities and challenge the status quo.

2. Innovation: Without innovation, organizations are stagnant and more likely to tread water and die. Organizations need to be actively innovating all the time. Look at the Apple’s and Google’s of the world if you need an example of what I mean. Innovation and intrapreneurship are integral to long term success. Quite frankly, the #1 issue keeping CEOs up at night is the pace and rate of innovation in their organization. Your next big product could be just an idea away. Is your company’s climate conducive to innovation or is it stifling? Remember, innovators come up with ideas but the execution, commercialization and launch belongs to entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs and business builders who can manage and calculate risk and seize opportunities when others just see problems.

3. Leadership: The traits we associate with C-level execs are not necessarily what companies need to innovate. Intrapreneurial leaders have different philosophies, motivations and preferences that lend themselves to leading growth in product and market initiatives. Intrapreneurship has the potential to engage your best and brightest.

4. Change: Many leaders are afraid of change and its consequences. On the other hand, intrapreneurial leaders welcome and seek out change because they know it’s a necessary aspect of growth. Intrapreneurial types aren’t afraid to ask the tough questions, experiment with different approaches to solve a pain/problem in the marketplace, and pivot to a second or third ‘right’ solution.

5. Engagement: Are your employees emotionally checked out or plugged in? Lost productivity can mean slow or no growth. Intrapreneurship, on the other hand, can be a boon to organizations because employees find the projects challenging and meaningful, which leads to higher engagement. Their passion and determination is contagious. As they grow professionally, so does the organization and its opportunities.

So where does your organization fall on the spectrum? Organizations that have embraced business builders are known to have greater financial returns, increased productivity, more innovation and higher levels of employee engagement. What do you have to lose?


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