The creation of a new product, service, process or system, from the first
glimmer of an idea to the successful implementation and exploitation of the idea.
Every human is capable of creativity. In some the talent is buried, trained out of
them by schools, parents or bosses. In the information age, part of every manager's
and every team member's job is to create an environment in which creativity is appreciated
and new ideas are brought out of those who may have almost forgotten their creativity.
Ideas are like insects; many are born, but few live to maturity. Most people face
a choice: go to their graves with all their ideas unfulfilled, or give up on 99%
of them and take the time to push a few through to completion. Once you focus on
making one of your ideas happen, you begin becoming an intrapreneur.
The Dreamers Who Do
Because they closely resemble entrepreneurs, we call the people who turn ideas into
realities inside an organization "intrapreneurs." Intrapreneurs are the
hands-on doers who make a new idea happen. They roll up their sleeves to get things
done. They recruit others to help. Whether working on an idea that was originally
their own or building on someone else's idea, they are the dreamers who do. Texas
Instruments, well known for intrapreneurial successes like Speak and Spell and FLIR
(Forward Looking Infra Red), studied fifty of their successful and unsuccessful new
product efforts. In each of their successes there is one or more dedicated intrapreneurs
who persisted despite great obstacles. Similarly, the common denominator of their
failures was that every one of them lacked a zealous volunteer champion. Every one
lacked an intrapreneur. Innovations just don't happen unless someone takes on the
3.The Intrapreneurial Team
The purest intrapreneurial team consists of volunteers recruited to the idea by one
or more lead intrapreneur(s). They form a core team which stays with the project
from its early stages, well past its initial commercialization or implementation.
3M's Project System
In 3M's famous project system, an idea is brought forward by a team of
three: one from marketing, one from research, and one from manufacturing. The commitment
of the three members with functional skills means the venture has already passed
through three different screens, and thus the project is given the benefit of the
is supported. The formation of the team points to the presence of an entrepreneurial
leader who can attract talent and skills. This core team can then stay with the project
until it becomes a full division.
Sponsors support their people's ideas by protecting their work from the "corporate
immune system" (so it helps if they have some management power) and by helping
the group garner resources to implement their ideas. More specifically, effective
sponsors: Create a compelling vision that calls for and guides innovation efforts.
Sponsors bet on people, not just plans. They take the time to coach and guide the
intrapreneurial teams Anticipate political obstacles and block oncoming tacklers
Learn to be "one of the team" so they can share ideas without telling the
team what to do
We have studied hundreds of innovations within large organizations. In every case,
at least one sponsor with a close relationship to the intrapreneurial team guided
them around obstacles and intervened with the hierarchy to keep the project alive.
Just as there is no innovation without intrapreneurs, and no significant innovation
without teams, there is no innovation in large organizations without sponsors.
5.The Climate Maker
When the Hewlett Packard climate began to turn against the entrepreneurial spirit,
the founders came out of retirement to reaffirm the company's commitment to an intrapreneurial
climate. They didn't intervene in any specific project, as a sponsor would. Rather
they worked to create an organizational pattern and culture wherein businesses had
intrapreneurial freedom and many effective sponsors could empower many successful
intrapreneurial teams. Growth and profitability, which were beginning to stall, took
off again. In the complex world of today's multinationals, it takes more than one
or two climate maker to create an environment in which managers can become sponsors
and intrapreneurs. It takes a widely shared belief in innovation and a sincere determination
to keep it alive. Use the next chapter to see what kind of climate-making your organization