In the Spotlight – Capitalize on an Intrapreneurial Culture

Who would have known that a predator invisible to the naked eye would or could cause a global disruption within our personal and professional lives? And yet it has. 

As a business owner, I know first hand what it means to have to take a hard look at what I have built over the past 15 years and to realize that my business model or the method in which I had delivered my services may no longer be relevant in in this new economy. 

It requires a lot of soul searching, research, masterminding and collaboration as leader of my own company to figure out what is next. If this is what I’m going through, I can’t begin to imagine what this would be like to run a large organization to figure out the next steps.

Perhaps the answer to solving the business reinvention lies within the organization itself in the form of intrapreneurship—allowing employees to utilize the traits and characteristics associated with entrepreneurs to develop and innovate new ideas, products or processes on behalf of the organization. Why look outside the business for inspiration or help when key players within the organization might be right in front of you.

Unsure of how to get started? Who better to introduce the concept of an intrapreneurial culture  for this week’s In the Spotlight than powerhouse guru and author of Intrapreneur than Dr Irena Yashin-Shaw, Phd MEd BA CSP. Irena knows that “now is the time for Intrapreneurs to unlock potential, harness creativity and liberate transformation to allow their organizations to SOAR”.

Irena’s spotlight comments:

Intrapreneurs are the future of your organisation or business! These are those invaluable employees who find ways of rising above obstacles, barriers, entrenched thinking, BAU processes, to bring enormous value and transformation within organisations. They are needed today more than ever as workplaces and ways of working are going through massive transformation and disruption.  

I often use the metaphor of a Helium balloon when talking about organisational intrapreneurs – despite the pull of gravity it gets lift off and soars. Intrapreneurs do the same thing – they manage to rise above barriers and bureaucracy to make positive change happen.

7 Critical Steps to Capitalise on Intrapreneurial Talent

1. Identify your intrapreneurs. 

You have a clear, proven and effective method or process of finding your high-potential employees who are ready, willing, able and excited about stepping up to the challenge of finding opportunities and solving high-value problems for the benefit of the organisation?     

2. Give them permission to challenge the status quo. 

You have processes, guidelines, sanctioned spaces, or opportunities in place to enable people to question established practices without being shut down or dismissed. Your intrapreneurs know that thinking differently is valued and respected. They know that they can ask difficult questions even if that might make some people uncomfortable. They know that they are allowed to take calculated risks AND be supported without losing face if their actions don’t bring the anticipated results. They have a forum or safe-space where ideas that challenge the status quo can be heard and aired and welcomed.   

3. Teach them to think like an enterprising start-up. 

Your people have been given the skills to scope and design projects where they can experiment with small scale pilots before scaling up incrementally. In other words, they know how to start small, be agile and get some quick wins that can be adapted and scaled up later. 

4. Have a process for identifying problems worth solving. 

You use a process of some sort that enables people to analyse the worthiness of a problem or challenge to pursue in order to increase your chances of bringing exponential value to the organisation?  

5. Systematise the intrapreneurial journey. 

You have a clearly articulated method in place for employees who step up to be intrapreneurs. There is a pathway which enables them to progress step by step to being effective, valuable change makers.  

6. Quantify the value your intrapreneurs create. 

You have a method of calculating return on investment. You use a formula or a heuristic to do the math on the actual dollars or value that intrapreneurial initiatives bring to the organisation.   

7. Celebrate intrapreneurialism. 

Your organisation regularly and formally announces and acknowledges the value your intrapreneurs bring, and by doing so celebrates their efforts and achievements. There are many ways that could happen – at the end of projects or during team meetings, quarterly, annually – ideally all of those. But you have some mechanism by which the good work done by intrapreneurs is identified, presented, discussed and celebrated so that it is talked about and promoted.

About Dr. Irena Yashin-Shaw, PhD MEd BA CSP

IrenaDr. Irena Yashin-Shaw is a liberator! She is on a mission to liberate and harness underutilised talent, creativity and leadership potential within people and organisations.  As an innovation and creativity thought leader and practitioner (since BEFORE they became the new workplace imperatives), Irena works with leaders in both the public and private sector who want a critical mass of high-performing, problem-solving, adaptable, energised, entrepreneurial employees (intrapreneurs) who will help create a future-ready organisation. Such people are more important than ever today in a disrupted, uncertain, super-VUCA world.

With a PhD in creative problem-solving and a Masters in Adult Education, Dr. Irena is a rare combination of deep academic knowledge, real-world entrepreneurial experience and a passionate educator. She is the Editor-in-Chief of Intrapreneur Magazine ( and the Founder and CEO of the Global Intrapreneurs Institute, ( an on-line community hub for learning and development created to support and recognise intrapreneurs. She is the author of Intrapreneur: How leaders ignite innovation, break bureaucracy and catalyse change.

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