The Innovation Conundrum

Published by Lodestone Logic on

Corporate America is searching for the single answer that will solve all of its woes with regards to innovation. Yet, there is an obvious internal blind spot when it comes to innovation.

Innovation and innovative assets already exist within these companies, but they are underutilized or untapped for their potential.  The asset is their own employees that are true intrapreneurs.

So, what is an intrapreneur? These are unique employees that have some of the following characteristics. They:

  1. Believe in the mission and cause of the company
  2. Make sense of complex things to develop strategic, yet very concrete ideas that will transform the way that the company is doing its business.
  3. Develop and nurture a robust network – both within the company and outside the company spanning to the direct competitors and other industries and sectors.
  4. Get things done.

There’s no doubt about it, based on these traits, intrapreneurs are management’s dream of the ideal employee. Yet, intrapreneurs are rarely leveraged to help transform the company.

Instead, intrapreneurs are usually recognized as the ‘problem children’ by management (and HR).

Why?

Typically intrapreneurs are the employees are difficult to manage because they have a bigger perspective about the business, which generates ideas, and suggestions about how to do things differently. They push their direct line management to initiate new projects and work that may be in direct conflict with the status quo. They are considered ‘cage rattlers’ and ‘boat rockers’ because sometimes they lack patience and tack. They like to be involved in ‘new’ things; if their direct line management denies their ideas and requests, they will still pursue them through other internal channels. Even though they are being recognized as delivering on the projects for other teams and functions, there are times when intrapreneurs struggle to do their ‘boring’ job responsibilities.

So, instead of intrapreneurs being recognized for their abilities, they are usually ‘coached’ to be like everyone else and do their written job description. If they continue to show their intrapreneur characteristics, the result is demotions, firings, or the decision to leave for another company where their intrapreneurial traits are encouraged and recognized in a positive manner (in many cases, it is to a direct competitor) .

It’s a serious conundrum. Intrapreneurs are the employees that are out on a ledge and are not accepting of the status quo. They are willing to take risks and initiate projects that they believe will create a more promising future for the company. But, because most organizations struggle with innovation and change, the intrapreneurs create internal friction. So, companies and organizations that want to be innovative NEED these employees to do what they do. The challenge is to identify these intrapreneurs, channel their energy, drive for tangible results, and recognize them for the contributions that they make.

As many people know, I wholeheartedly believe that intrapreneurs are the key to true transformation of the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. As such, I am an advocated for intrapreneurs and have invested time researching and learning about this particular employee population.

If you want to learn more about the intrapreneur research, findings, and detailed profiles, then check out the e-book, The Business Intrapreneur: Unsung Heroes of Corporate America (http://www.ebookit.com/books/0000001789/The-Business-Intrapreneur-Profiles-of-Unsung-Heroes-of-Corporate-America.html?LLblogpost ), add a comment to this blog post, or send me an email: keilenberg@lodestonelogic.com.