Secrets of Successful 'Intrapreneurship'

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Palm Springs, CA — December 2, 2010 —

Ernst & Young Ford Motor Company Dell SAP

Ability to Innovate Critical to Growth

Maria Pinelli

Six Strategies of Effective Intrapreneurship

  • Set up a formal structure for intrapreneurship. It is critical to give people enough time away from their day jobs to work on creative ideas, while setting up formal processes to make sure those ideas go somewhere. Google, for example, has set up a formal process for encouraging intrapreneurship through its Innovation Time Off project, which enables employees to spend about 20 percent of their time on company-related work that is of personal interest. Almost half of Google's product launches are said to have originated from this program.
  • Ask for ideas from your employees. Encourage everyone from all ranks and functions to contribute to the innovative process. IBM, for example, uses "jams" — massive online brainstorming conferences — to generate ideas and solve problems. Its famous 2006 Innovation Jam involved 150,000 participants and resulted in $100 million being appropriated to start 10 new businesses.
  • Assemble and unleash a diverse workforce. Statistical research has established that diverse viewpoints result in better ideas and better products. PepsiCo, for example, attributes about $250 million to new products inspired by diversity efforts.
  • Design a career path for your intrapreneurs. Intrapreneurs tend to dislike conventional administrative jobs, so look for non-traditional ways to advance their careers. Recognizing that rewards can be an effective way to foster professional growth, 3M offers intrapreneurs awards for marketing excellence and technical innovation.
  • Explore government programs and incentives. Don't ignore the growing number of state-sponsored programs that support entrepreneurial ventures. Step up your efforts to obtain government funds for innovation.
  • Prepare for the pitfalls of intrapreneurship. Backing bold ideas can backfire. Be prepared to deal with failed ventures, internal conflicts, financial risks and intellectual property battles. Set risk limits up-front.

Institutionalizing Intrapreneurship

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