Intrapreneurs: virtue of rebellion

David García-Navas

27 July 2017

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If entrepreneurs are working world rockstars, then what better way is there to renew the pace of an organisation than to have them on the team? Intrapreneurs are those who have a special predisposition for idea generation, and the ability to put those ideas into operation, but choose do so within an established organisation. Examples of intrapreneurship include Facebook, Google’s GMail, and Sony’s PlayStation game console. This process of intrapreneurship arises within the organisation itself and its objectives often align;

  • Saving costs through the transformation or replacement of processes..
  • Discovery of new business areas, whether or not they’re related to the current core.
  • The improvement of a particular department, for example; facilitating internal communication or increasing the efficiency of data flow.
  • Generating a more conducive climate for innovation; talent attracts (and retain) talent.

How can we create intrapreneurs within the company?

We need people with a penchant for idea generation and problem solving, and we need the best of the best, so how do we find them? Are we able to recognise the qualities and talent of those about to launch an internal project, and support them in their endeavours?

Employer Branding

Employers need a strategy in place that allows them to promote their brand and attract and retain like minded individuals who subscribe to their same values; an individual who connects with company culture but is, at the same time, so different that they can bring diversity and vision to the team. We are then able to enhance those differences and different views so that the sum of  each individual enriches the whole.


Intrapreneurship can be fostered within a team at any time, but it is not enough to wait around until the time is ‘right’. There is a common trait shared by any individual who jumps at the chance to challenge convention; the rebellious attitude of someone who wants to bring about change for the better.

Therefore, we must aspire to some degree of rebellion, we must not let the status quo paralyze us.

Conformity commonly prevails, and often we feel social pressure to maintain the status quo. An idea that is both out of the ordinary and inconvenient is not usually well received.But there are ways to motivate a state of constructive dissent;

  • Let employees be themselves, explore their strengths and weaknesses,  define their own goals, and take the time to solve problems on their own, in their own way.
  • Remember, if we challenge ourselves constantly, asking questions like why…? and what if…? We will be opening the way for others to do so also.

If this nonconformism is at the core of our organisation, we’ll discover some good examples of that integrated activism, the kind that inspires workers, consumers and employees:

We are entering a new era in which brands are more rebellious than ever, loaded with activist input who introduce major change in the value chain.

Is our culture prepared for intrapreneurship?

In an organisation that is too complacent you might hear an employee say;”It’s not my job” or “that’s the responsibility of another department”, this attitude is unremarkable and discourages undiscovered intrapreneurs.

For anyone considering an entirely new approach, a methodology that adds extraordinary value or implementing a timesaving tool, they must first take into account a the culture of their company..

What points should we consider?

  • Management of those willing to move towards self-management, and purpose achieved without company  hierarchy .Frederic Laloux called these kinds of hierarchy-less organisations – teal organisations.
  • Light rain; as referenced in Leadertarians, “repeated over and over again the concepts, generate a light rain to finish shooting and use all available resources to reinforce the message.” Intrapreneurs are open to new challenges, they work to understand the nature of the obstacle and then propose a number of solutions.
  • Remember, it is  “Better to ask forgiveness than permission”. As written in Lidertarios, “Consensus kills innovation […]. Committees are not designed to make disruptive decisions, but to seek operational efficiency. Disruption comes from very subjective, personal vision. A different way of seeing things.”
  • As an organisation grows, collaboration may turn into competition.. When this happens, disruption becomes a game of one upmanship, instead of a team effort to improve the entire enterprise. It is necessary that the corporate culture promotes collaboration and service based leadership.

What could go right?

Sometimes a lack of consensus or an imposed and inflexible authority, results in ideas that are either not fully realised or not carried out at all. This is where culture forms a key role, as the good intentions of the intrapreneurs, without adequate organisational support, can lead to inaction or rebellion without communication.

An example of rebellious but disjointed action can be found in Portland, where a group of skilled workers, fed up with the government who would not repair a road, managed themselves. This decision could have been made in agreement with the authorities, but no such coordination occurred. Another example comes from NASA who, after the US President denied the reality of climate change, was forced to rebel so the public might be properly informed.

Current empowerment tools endow people with greater autonomy, issue them with additional powers so a disjointed rebellion could occur if necessary. If there is no real company culture, attempts to make a change for the better can be suppressed.However, if there is a  strategy in place focused on intrinsic motivation and the pursuit of love at work, organisational magic is bound to happen.

Does your company work to turn employees into intrapreneurs? Is your organisational culture prepared to accept intrapreneurial processes? Is your organisation well enough prepared  to avoid disjointed acts of rebellion?