Innovation Comes from Intrapreneurs
Entrepreneur|October - November 2021
Employees say they’re unhappy. Companies are struggling to navigate massive change. The solution to both? It’s creating a culture of intrapreneurship.
FRANK THEODORE KOE

As you read this, many of the people on your team may be plotting their escape. A recent Gallup poll found that 54 percent of workers are “psychologically unattached to their work and company”—and that makes them very hard to rally to your cause. Across the American economy, those disengaged employees translate into billions of dollars of losses.

Why are they disengaged? Take your pick from a host of explanations. The pandemic inspired many people to reconsider their lives. Meanwhile, millennials are projected to make up 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025, and they have been known for a hyper-focus on meaningful work that aligns with their beliefs (which isn’t something every job offers). Now Gen Z is entering the workforce and exhibits strong entrepreneurial ambitions; when EY Ripples and JA Worldwide surveyed nearly 6,000 members of Gen Z who participated in JA programs, for example, it found that 53 percent say they aspire to run their own business within a decade.

In short: People want more control. They want to engage in more nonlinear thinking that allows for an expansive and creative way of finding solutions to problems. And if leaders want to engage these inspiring workers, and harness their energy and ideas, they will need to pursue a concept that is decades old—but that still hasn’t made its way into many company cultures.

It is intrapreneurship.

The term intrapreneur was coined in 1978 by Libba and Gifford Pinchot, the married founders of the consulting firm Pinchot & Company, and appeared in a white paper they wrote at the time. Today, a more concise definition has been offered by Sir Richard Branson: “An employee who is given freedom and financial support to create new products, services, and systems who does not have to follow the company’s usual routines or protocol.”

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