When you read the term intrapreneur, you may think it’s a misspelling for entrepreneur. But it’s no typo. It’s exactly the type of person your organization needs to hire.
Intrapreneurs are individuals that use entrepreneurial thinking to create change or launch new ventures within existing organizations. They essentially always ask, “Is this the best and most effective way to do something? Is there a better or new way?”
Intrapreneurs may launch a new revenue-generating product or service, make systems and infrastructure more effective, or incorporate a social or environmental good component to your work. Organizations like Google are famous for fostering intrapreneurs through a culture of innovation and providing employee hours to explore new ideas.
In general, intrapreneurs can be trusted to work on a range tasks from strategy to implementation, and collaboratively across departments. If your company is already established, intrapreneurs can hit the ground running without spending time creating infrastructure and securing resources. Intrapreneurs pursue new strategies while staying true to the core principals and goals of the organization.
So, how do you find an intrapreneur to join your team? When you interview prospective employees, ask them if they’ve ever launched new initiatives or ventures for a previous employer, and listen for questions they may ask about workplace culture and employee responsibilities. Intrapreneurs are great at managing up and across departments, so find someone that has a history of working on teams in both leadership and non-leadership roles. You should also look for people that aren’t afraid to take calculated risks and fail. And don’t forget company culture—make sure that you hire an intrapreneur that will fit seamlessly with your team and management style.
You should also look to hire internally because you may already have an intrapreneur on your hands. Do you have employees that consistently think outside the box and offer suggestions, or people you trust to launch new initiatives? Are they passionate about your organization’s mission and do they have a history of working well within the company culture and infrastructure? This might be the intrapreneur your organization needs.
Once you’ve hired or identified your intrapreneur, the goal is to empower them by providing the trust, freedom, and resources they need to be successful. Allow for all team members to think about internal innovation and provide more opportunities to suggest ideas or build proofs of concepts.
If your social enterprise truly values collaboration and innovation, you need at least one intrapreneur on your team, so start searching.
Hila Mehr is a social intrapreneur currently working as a social enterprise fellow in Hyderabad, India. She blogs at hilamehr.tumblr.com. Connect on Twitter @HilaMehr.