Reimagining Startup and Enterprise Innovation

Building Intrapreneurial Culture

Guest Author

This blog post was authored by Matthew Price, Business Development, Oracle Global Startup Ecosystem. 


Setting out to write an article about intrapreneurial culture throws up some challenges, beyond simply spelling and wondering if ‘intrapreneurship’ is a real word! In this piece, I share some observations and examples of what I believe it means to be an intrapreneur and take actions to contribute and build a culture of entrepreneurship in larger organizations. 

I’ve reviewed several definitions for intrapreneurship and the role of an intrapreneur, often framed in relation to the arguably more well-known title, entrepreneur. I’ve been drawn to the following:

“An intrapreneur is responsible for innovating within an existing organization…” Aja Frost https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/intrapreneurship-vs-entrepreneurship

“[An intrapreneur] is someone who thinks and acts like a business owner within an organization. Intrapreneurship leads to a sense of achievement when things go well, a drive to fix things when they go wrong and a company that is unstoppable.” Mike Kalis https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/308572

Reflecting on entrepreneurs, Dominic McVey shared some wonderful insight with me earlier this year. From an early age, Dominic was identifying opportunities to create and build profitable businesses. He’s the head of a highly successful, multinational organization. In a London pub, he comments, “I’m not an entrepreneur, I’m entrepreneurial”.  This is important; Dominic, like many inspirational founders and business leaders I’ve had the privilege to interact with, has an unyielding determination to get things done. 

I don’t believe this is about job titles or positions within an organization. Intrapreneurship is about ownership, attitude and appetite for progress. It’s simple actions that get things done.

In a challenging article, ‘The Myth of the Intrapreneur’, https://hbr.org/2018/06/the-myth-of-the-intrapreneur , Andrew Corbet provides an excellent definition, “entrepreneurial creativity and innovation within large, established organizations” and argues that “Companies need to institutionalize innovation rather than expect it to simply flow forth from intrapreneurs operating within existing structures.”

That made me think! For the greatest impact and lasting change within a large organization, I tend to agree. A mandate for transformation from the highest levels of organizational leadership, reinforced by appropriate structures, perfect tools and flawless communication would be great to have in our organizations. However, we work in challenging, less than ideal, organizational realities. We cannot accept that as an excuse not to take small, simple steps that lead to results.

I’m inspired by the successes and struggles of those aiming to lead change and drive innovation within large organizations. Over the last few years, I’ve had the chance to engage with the Co-linked Corporate Innovation Community www.colinked.io. Participating in this community has given me the opportunity to meet amazing people and has allowed me to share Oracle’s vision for Cloud and the Startup program. I’m energized when I spend time with individuals who are dialed in to the vision and need to change, improve and explore new possibilities within their businesses – and the stark realities, struggles and common barriers to bring this vision to fruition. We share experiences candidly and create connections to help.

At an event a few months ago, I happened to be sat next to Mel Nurse, Cancer Research UK. In a brief conversation, I realized that Sauce Video, part of Oracle Global Startup Ecosystem, could be a great fit to enable collaborative video content creation and help the charity engage audiences. Knowing that Sauce are active in the charity sector, I was keen to make a connection. Taking responsibility for some simple actions and making an email introduction on the train journey home may not seem like profound innovative endeavors. However, just a few months later, CRUK are now using Sauce and loving the capabilities to help them better execute on their mission. I’m proud that Oracle Cloud underpins and enables those capabilities.

Regardless of your organization. If you want to grow intrapreneurial culture, don’t get caught up in titles and whether innovation and activity is focused inside an organization or outside. Instead, start small and simply get stuff done.

JOIN ORACLE FOR STARTUPS: Sign up to receive free Oracle Cloud credits, plus access to business enablement and marketing resources for your startup. 

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