Perri Gorman | ,| By
Does Startup Innovation Have a Place in Corporate America?
Small businesses and startups take risks. They adapt, evolve, and are flexible to different circumstances, environment, and industries. They are nimble and offer innovation, a different point of view. These entrepreneurs often times lay it all on the line risking their lives and financial future in order to save or change the world. These wins offer a market shakeup and big payday. With intrapreneurs that is not the case.
An entrepreneur is defined as an enterprising business professional. They build capital through risk and initiative leveraging their financial future in exchange for great financial reward. Being an entrepreneur is a lot like playing black jack. These innovators and disruptors are all in playing against the dealer who when tied always wins.
I see a new trend among workplaces developing to help drive that innovation in the stagnate and safe corporate workplace. It’s called the intrapreneur. This person innovates without the risk often in the safe confines of the corporate throws and hierarchal and political environment that is the world of work. Except that I believe they don’t. An intraprenuer is more a pipe dream really. The myth of the intraprenuer is like a modern day version of Animal Farm. It’s filled with corruption, greed, and indifference.
The corporate model is broken. Fifty percent of employees are unhappy at work. And 1 in 4 professionals believe they are living up to their creative potential. And yet the startup community is booming. Entreprenuerial is at its highest point as people take the greatest risk of their professional lives working like dogs but because they have the control they are happier, more creative, and engaged than ever. My friend Perri Gorman feels that way. She moved from New York to San Francisco to launch her start up leaving her cushy finance headhunting job to live the dream, and she believes she’s a better person for it. I think she is too.
Intrapreneur or Internal Entrepreneur?
The concept behind an intrapreneur is one that I can get behind. Established companies are struggling to innovate and looking for ways to up their game especially in this global business space. Except that intrapreneur’s are insolated and often play the game without risk. Meaning that they don’t have any financial skin in the game. They are not an internal entrepreneur. They are collecting their weekly paycheck just like every other red blooded corporate guy or gal doing the same old thing. There’s no direct access to risk, reward, passion, and failure.
I believe that sometimes fear is the greatest motivator. Fear of being homeless. Fear of being broke. The fear of being laughed at and the fear of failure. In corporate intrarpreneur programs, they don’t have this risk. And they sure as hell aren’t leveraging their soul to make their dreams the reality. There have no real vested skin in the game.
Intrapreneurial Programs Conflict with the Corporate Conference Call Marathon
The real failure of corporate innovation isn’t a formal intrapreneurial program. These organizations and its leaders wouldn’t know if innovation slapped them in the face. The real innovation is happening in the field by middle manager and front line employees. They see a problem and offer a solution. Except no one is listening because they’re too busy on their corporate conference call marathon. Or if they are listening, they spend weeks and months debating, discussing, and evaluating risk. Where real innovation happens in on the fly. Following your gut and making a change. This is the reason that corporate intrapreneurial programs will never be successful at least in mainstream corporate America.
Do you know a company who innovates and supports a intrapreneur mindset? I’d love to hear about it by leaving a comment below.