In the heart of intrapreneurship

In the heart of intrapreneurship lies the essence of ownership – a quality that transcends mere responsibility and ventures into the realm of passion and commitment for one’s work. But what does it truly mean to embody this trait in the corporate world?

In the dynamic and competitive arena of modern business, a new breed of professionals is emerging within organizations – the intrapreneurs. These individuals mirror entrepreneurs in their creativity, initiative, and drive but apply these traits within the boundaries of their employment.

This concept resonates deeply with mid-level career professionals who aspire to leave a significant imprint in their roles.

What is Intrapreneurship?

Intrapreneurship is the infusion of entrepreneurial spirit within the framework of an existing organization. It’s about navigating the corporate structure innovatively and proactively, akin to running your own business within a company. This approach contrasts with traditional employees who may follow predefined paths, as intrapreneurs seek to create new paths and opportunities.

Consider the story of a Google employee, Paul Buchheit, who used his 20% “innovation time” to develop Gmail. He worked on this project with a small team, operating almost like a startup within Google. This is a classic example of intrapreneurship where an employee’s initiative led to the creation of a groundbreaking product within the confines of a larger organization.

Characteristics of an Intrapreneur

Intrapreneurs are characterized by their innovative thinking, proactive approach, and willingness to take calculated risks. They are the ones who question the status quo and are not satisfied with “this is how we’ve always done it.” Their approach is holistic; they understand the business’s broader goals and how their initiatives align with these objectives.

Take Shantanu Narayen at Adobe, for instance. Before becoming CEO, Narayen led the development of Adobe Acrobat and the PDF format. His vision for digital documents transformed the way the world interacts with documents. He exemplified the intrapreneurial spirit by identifying a need, innovating a solution, and driving its adoption within and outside Adobe.

The Role of Ownership in Intrapreneurship

Ownership in the context of intrapreneurship transcends mere task completion; it’s about seeing the bigger picture and aligning one’s work with the strategic goals of the organization. It involves not just accountability, but a deep-seated commitment to the success of the project as if it were your own business.

A remarkable example of ownership can be seen in the story of Ken Kutaragi, a Sony employee who led the creation of the PlayStation. Despite initial resistance within Sony, Kutaragi persisted, convinced of the potential of his idea. His sense of ownership over the project drove him to overcome numerous challenges, eventually leading to one of Sony’s most successful products.

Assessing Yourself: Are You an Intrapreneur?

Evaluating whether you’re an intrapreneur involves introspection and honesty about your work approach. Consider how you’ve handled past projects. Did you take the initiative to start new projects or improve existing processes? When faced with challenges, did you persist and find innovative solutions? How often do you think about the impact of your work on the broader business goals?

Reflect on how you approach your role. Do you actively seek feedback and learning opportunities to improve your work? Are you willing to go beyond your job description to drive change? These questions can help identify your inclination towards intrapreneurship.

Fostering Intrapreneurship and Ownership in Your Career

To cultivate intrapreneurship, start by observing and understanding the larger business landscape of your organization. Look for unmet needs or inefficiencies that you can address. Develop a mindset of continuous learning and stay abreast of industry trends and innovations.

To exhibit ownership, demonstrate commitment to your projects beyond just meeting deadlines. Communicate your ideas clearly and build a coalition of support. Be prepared to champion your projects, even in the face of obstacles or skepticism.

Intrapreneurship and ownership are not just buzzwords but essential qualities for impactful mid-level career professionals. Embracing these traits can lead to significant contributions to your organization and personal career growth. Ask yourself today – are you an intrapreneur?

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Jappreet Sethi
Jappreet Sethi, CEO and founder of HexGn, stands out as a strategic human resource management and entrepreneurial mentorship expert. Under his leadership, HexGn, known for its dynamic community of serial entrepreneurs and industry experts, has trained over 5000 entrepreneurs from 20+ countries, reinforcing its global impact in entrepreneurial education. Sethi’s extensive experience includes strategic government projects, developing e-commerce strategies, and authoring white papers on technology in internal security. His international workshops have spanned 15 countries, aiding participants and clients in raising investments. His tenure as head of People and Process Consulting at Jones Lang LaSalle India and his role on JLL's global Diversity board reflect his deep understanding of organizational dynamics and transformative change. A certified facilitator with an impressive track record in leadership development, Sethi’s expertise in process management is evident in his achievements as a Six Sigma Black Belt and master lean practitioner. He’s also a visiting faculty member at leading institutes, a prominent speaker, and the founder and lead editor of the acclaimed HR blog, humanresourcesblog.in. Recognized as a top HR influencer, Sethi's unique blend of strategic HR expertise, global mentorship, and organizational transformation insight makes him an invaluable asset in guiding companies through growth and innovation.

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