Intraprenuership 101

As organizations become increasingly flatter and connected (internally and externally) , the opportunities for innovation to emerge from the edges is also increasing. What does it take to innovate and create a niche for yourself in a huge MNC? How do you differentiate yourself from the crowd? How do you become an intraprenuer? Here are 10 important things to remember as you take the path less trodden :

  1. Find out what you love – Discover your passion. As opposed to just doing what is being assigned to you, you need to discover what you actually want to do. A simple way of discovering what you like is to think of those tasks that really energize you and make you lose sense of time. Perhaps it is programming or perhaps it is when you make a sales pitch to a customer. Whatever it is – you need to experiment and identify your passion.
  2. Scan the horizon to discover needs of the enterprise – See if there are problems to be solved or new opportunities that can be created. Perhaps your company needs a better knowledge management system or a better process to manage ideas or you think there is a huge opportunity to create a new service offering in the Web 2.0 space. Identify multiple needs and shortlist those opportunities/needs that can create medium/high impact. Ensure that you understand the need/opportunity deeply and that there is an intersection between your passion and the opportunity. This does not mean you need all the skills to realize the benefits of the opportunity – however, it does mean that the opportunity has to appeal to your heart.
  3. Leverage your social network to find other believers – preferably peers within or outside your team. Build an informal team of high energy people who complement each others strengths.
  4. Build a business case ( Use a tool like PlanHQ if you have no clue what a business plan looks like !! ) and preferably a working prototype in stealth mode. Create compelling collateral to augment your business case – depending on what works in your organization, Flash Videos & Screencasts may help people envision the future.
  5. Get the right people in senior management excited about your idea and present your business case – Middle managers usually have other burning issues at hand and will most probably be skeptical about anything that is not mainstream – Incremental improvements to process is what would appeal to them most of the time.
  6. Watch out for forums/events within your organization where you can present your idea.
  7. Build bridges – Most of the times, when an idea goes to the implementation stage, it would need support from multiple groups. It is important to present the solution to each group helping them understand what is in it for them and also the enterprise wide implications.
  8. Be patient but maintain high energy levels – This is the toughest part. There are a host of problems typical of enterprises that are energy drainers – Structural problems, Power politics etc., Figure out ways to work around these problems. Focus on the task at hand.
  9. Be relentlessly disciplined but open to change – Take complete responsibility for what you are doing. Learn continuously – both when things work and when they don’t.
  10. Know when to pull the plug – Read The Dip by Seth Godin.