Identifying and Supporting Intrapreneurs

By Nancy Pridgen, J.D.

Corporate entrepreneurship, often referred to as “intrapreneurship,” is prospering in many of the world’s best-run organizations. Bringing together an individual’s entrepreneurial spirit and fresh ideas with the vast resources of an organization can result in better products and services.

So how do company leaders create an environment that is conducive to intrapreneur-driven innovation?  The first step is recognizing how important intrapreneurship is for growth and change within organizations.  In order to compete in today’s business world, companies must embrace continuous experimentation, and who better to do this than the natural intrapreneurs who are already working for you?

Identifying these intrapreneurs is key.  They aren’t necessarily the top talent or the eccentric loners, but they do have certain characteristics that make them unique.  If you can identify them and support them, you’re bound to reap the benefits of that creative ability and energy.

The Entrepreneurial Mindset Profile (EMP)® incorporates 14 scales that have been found to distinguish entrepreneurs from non-entrepreneurs.  Certain combinations of high and low scores on these scales help us to see more clearly the types of intrapreneurs who might be working in your organization.  Let’s take a look at three common scenarios.

High Idea Generation/Low Execution

Individuals with these scores like to brainstorm ideas and think through multiple and often novel possibilities for solving problems, but they prefer for someone else to actually carry out the implementation.  They are more energized by conceptualizing and starting something new than finishing it.  Matching these folks with the “doers” in an organization makes for a great pair where fresh ideas can not only flourish but actually get accomplished.

High Passion and Need to Achieve/ Low Limited Structure and Independence

When the High Passion/High Need to Achieve combination is coupled with relatively lower scores on Limited Structure and Independence, it suggests that the individual might be perfectly comfortable in a corporate setting (working on teams and within a defined structure), but still motivated to make big things happen both personally and professionally.  These types want to make a significant, positive impact and are willing to do it within the confines of a large organization—provided that there are significant opportunities for reward and recognition for their efforts.

Low Confidence (but highly skilled)

Organizations of all types have employees who are highly skilled but, for whatever reason, lack confidence.  Until these people really believe that their existing talents and capabilities are sufficient for achieving their most desired goals, they will never live up to their full potential.  Encouraging these individuals to try new things, take on new challenges, and celebrate their successes is an important factor in erasing any self-doubts and helping them to have a strong sense of self-assuredness.

When the High Passion/High Need to Achieve combination is coupled with relatively lower scores on Limited Structure and Independence, it suggests that the individual might be perfectly comfortable in a corporate setting (working on teams and within a defined structure), but still motivated to make big things happen both personally and professionally.  These types want to make a significant, positive impact and are willing to do it within the confines of a large organization—provided that there are significant opportunities for reward and recognition for their efforts.

Be on the lookout for the natural intrapreneurs in your organization, and give them all the support you can to boost creativity and innovation.

For more information on the Entrepreneurial Mindset Profile (EMP) and how you can use it in your organization, please contact us at emindsetprofile@eckerd.edu or 727-864-8827.