“Innovation” and “entrepreneurship” have been trendy terms which had quite a bit of stage presence in the past five or so years. The next term that I expect we will see in the coming months and years is “intrapreneurship.”
There are two major indicators that make me come up with this prediction:
First, both US and Canadian governments put their weight behind entrepreneurship as a way to create new jobs in a longer-than-ever recession. Among thousands of entrepreneurs, who received support (government funding, coaching, mentorship, free work spaces, tax benefits, so on so forth), there are and will be successful ones. When I say “success”, I am not only referring to those who are made into poster-child cases, which are few. I am referring to those who succeed in establishing themselves as viable businesses, manage to carve out a market share and hire staff. These businesses will be run by founders for some time. Being entrepreneurs themselves, founders and early key employees will expect personalities and work habits that are similar to their own. These founders will also realize that their paradigm has to change as their companies grow and certain processes and procedures need to be incorporated. This is where intrapreneurs can help. They understand how to operate and be successful in large organizations where current structure typically hinders innovation. They also understand how to effectively use existing resources and structures to advance their goals. A seasoned intrapreneur can help successful entrepreneurs shape up their organizations as they transition from being a start-up to a growth company.
Second, both US and Canadian companies are hoarding historically high amounts of cash, which they have accumulated during recession. We had a few false starts in spending (investing in development) but these attempts did not continue. Corporations continue to be risk-averse and timid when it comes to getting into a steady cadence of investing their cash. As a result, corporate investment in R&D and new services remains low by historic standards. This cannot continue forever. US and Canadian governments started to put their weight on corporations to encourage them to put cash back into circulation through new development investments. Once the scare is over, corporations will be again in a race to outperform each other and deliver successful products and services to their markets. They will achieve this in two ways:
1) Acquisition of promising companies started by entrepreneurs. Integration of these companies and their continued success will require skills of intrapreneurs, who understand both sides of the coin.
2) Accelerate internal development. This is the sweet spot of intrapreneurs! They shine when there is sense of urgency and required support behind new products and services.
So, I think the time of intrapreneurs is near.
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