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4 Ways to Create a Culture of Intrapreneurship

Lately, you may have heard the relatively new term, intrapreneur.  If you're unfamiliar with the concept, the word defines a person within an organization who uses skills traditionally associated with entrepreneurship—like innovation and problem-solving—and applies them at the company they work for.

Essentially, it's a way for employees to engage in entrepreneurial-like behavior while avoiding the risk that entrepreneurs typically experience.  As you might imagine, companies love having this type of innovator on board at their organizations.  If you'd like to foster a culture of intrapreneurship at your company, you can do so by:

  1. Rewarding Proactive Behavior.  Employees are far more likely to be proactive problem solvers if they know that behavior is valued in their organization.  If you have layers of bureaucracy in place that makes proactive behavior all but impossible, we encourage you to start thinking of innovative ways to change that.

  2. Making Room for Creativity.  Firms that foster intrapreneurship tend to allow their employees greater flexibility.  For example, at 3M and Google, employees are allowed to spend 20% of their working hours pursuing personal projects related to the business.  In fact, these personal projects led to the creation of Post-It notes and Gmail.

  3. Accepting Micro-Failures.  In an innovative environment, there will be times that failures occur.  However, rather than berating employees for making mistakes, aim for an understanding attitude.  By accepting that failure is an occasional byproduct of risk, you create a culture where employees are more comfortable implementing new ideas.

  4. Acting on Ideas.  Sitting around and coming up with great ideas can be an enjoyable pasttime.  However, it's important to realize that if you're a company that truly wants to foster intrapreneurship, it's not just enough to devise useful ideas.  At some point, you need to act on them.  To do this, growth strategist Matthew Toren at business.com suggests you develop a structure to move ideas from the generation stage all the way to commercial realization.