Intrapreneurship is a short chapter in the Rogers book, and it isn’t hard to see why. Although a relatively recent concept, I’m not sure there is much to this concept in reality. The categories of employee and entrepreneur are broad and overarching: trying to make a mish-mash of those two categories seems to just blur the line with no added insight gained.
In other words, the concept obscures rather than clarifies, and it should be rejected.
A quick Google search of intrapreneurship returns some “essential traits of intraprenuership”. These attributes are:
- They behave authentically and with integrity
- They know how to pivot
- Money is not the measurement
- These workers really try to figure things out
Going through these points, I don’t see anything overly special here that merits a new designation like “intrapreneur”. What’s more, at least one of these qualities seem like a given. Would you hire someone who behaved with inauthenticity and without integrity? I hope not.
Additionally, intrapreneurs “know how to pivot”. In other words, they’ve committed a major screw-up that is forcing them to change direction. Marc Andreeson (founder of Netscape and current venture capitalist) has said that using a cutesy word like “pivot” takes the stigma out of failure.
Failure is a part of life, and it usually teaches more lessons than success. However, it is probably best not to deal in euphemisms to blunt the fact that failure still simply sucks.
The word pivot sounds more too similar to a loosey-goosey “I’m OK, you’re OK” approach. This may be well-meaning, but it can usually deliver only weakness and irresolution in situations where strength and determination are needed. Ask yourself: if this undertaking is your dream, can you really “pivot” without losing a bit of yourself in the process?
This is the warning implicit in Vince Lombardi’s famous quote: “Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.”
The other two qualities – “money is not the measurement” and “really trying to figure things out” – are so broad as to invalidate the usefulness of intrapreneur as a standalone category. Perhaps a better label to attach to these folks is “great employee”.
The concept of intrapreneurship just needs more differentiation to really become an insight into the business world.