Making your organization friendly for intrapreneurs is key for innovation.

This involves a shift in company culture, affecting everything from the physical and social workspace to the business’ hiring procedures and leadership approaches, as Alice de Casanove, Culture Evolution & Intrapreneurship Director at Airbus Defence & Space recently shared at Innov8rs Connect.

A company’s culture expresses its strategy through its values, assumptions and group norms. So, how can you change the way you think, act and behave to create a company culture that supports intrapreneurship?

What Is Intrapreneurship?

The first step to fostering intrapreneurship is defining clearly what it actually is. Essentially, an intrapreneur is a manager within a company who promotes innovative product development and marketing.

You can compare the intrapreneur to both the entrepreneur and the manager role within a company. They can be so easily compared as they are really a mix of the two, ideally with the best traits of both.

While the entrepreneur wants the power of control, a manager wants the power to delegate. The intrapreneur sits firmly in the middle, having the power of “can do” instead. They do this by seeking internal resources, rather than dishing them out or having to pitch for and request them as an entrepreneur might.

These resources are not always financial. It’s often about finding and getting the right people for the job, rather than just more money for a particular project.

They seek independence, rather than to be the owner of a particular venture as an entrepreneur, or to be the one grading others’ performances in the case of a manager. The intrapreneur has the intuition and ability to translate their vision into the company culture.

What kind of qualities should you expect from an intrapreneur?

The 6 Qualities of Intrapreneurs

1. Leadership Skills
Perhaps the most obvious trait of an intrapreneur is that they have good leadership skills. This is an overlapping skill of both managers and entrepreneurs, so it’s no wonder than an intrapreneur must share this trait if they want to be successful.
Intrapreneurs must be able to share their vision with other people. They need to be able to engage those around them for the greater good of any particular project.

2. Creativity
Creativity is a must in the world of entrepreneurship, and so to for intrapreneurs as well. An intrapreneur has to translate their vision into the corporate language, acting almost as a go-between for the entrepreneurial mindset and that of the corporate team.
But they also must have this creativity in order to find and build new approaches and solutions to problems. Without this creativity, intrapreneurs struggle to come up with new ideas, plans and strategies to share with their team.

3. Confidence
Confidence is key within any leadership position. This is even more true in the case of an intrapreneur, who must convince the others around them that their ideas are worth betting on.
Often, the intrapreneur engages with managers and other stakeholders, and so must convince them that their idea is the right one. If not, the important people around them won’t feel willing to bet the future of the company on them. So, an intrapreneur must confidently show them that their ideas are indeed safe bets.

4. Eagerness to Learn
Every new project is an opportunity to learn something new for everyone involved. Intrapreneurs must have a willingness to learn as they take on countless new ideas, and some are bound to fail.

Aside from being eager to learn though, the intrapreneur must take a strategic approach. They must put strategies in place to reduce the uncertainties associated with any given project, while still leaving plenty of scope for them to learn from all of their testing.

5. Flexibility
In the modern world, flexibility is key in every leadership position. However, this is even more true for intrapreneurs. They must be flexible in their approach, as they have multidisciplinary teams working all around them, and they must find ways to connect all the dots.

6. Competitiveness
The final quality of an intrapreneur is competitiveness. However, rather than just having a pure competition-driven mindset, an intrapreneur must see the competition as motivation. Seeing the competition as a positive signal allows teams to take on projects with more enthusiasm, while also allowing them to learn from those around them working on similar things.

The Reality of Being an Intrapreneur

With all of these qualities in mind, an intrapreneur must face the stark reality that they’re working with many different groups of people in close proximity to each other. All of these people have different agendas, protocols to follow and ways of doing things.

This makes it very easy for intrapreneurs to get stuck. With finance departments sticking to strict budgetary protocols and IT departments strictly controlling the use of software and hardware, it creates a maze through which the intrapreneur must navigate.

To make it easier for them, and thus easier for projects to see success, the entire organization must nurture an entrepreneurial mindset. Everyone in the organization must understand that, for the projects to be successful, they need financial support along with some freedom and flexibility.

By making innovation understandable and visible to all parts of the company, everyone in the business gains a better understanding of what the intrapreneurs do. This kind of approach benefits from innovation management standards.

Innovation Management Standards

In order to boost engagement with regard to intrapreneurship across the organization, recently ISO published ISO 56002 as the first International Standard for innovation management systems

These standards have been introduced to help articulate a clear vision for innovation in the business, and define clear innovation processes.

These allow intrapreneurs to determine the resources required to support innovation activities, establish KPIs and other metrics for measuring the success of any given project, and define the organizational culture allows all of this to happen.

By standardizing innovation, through the creation of ISO standards, organizations can receive guidance on how to structure their own innovation management systems, to ensure they work effectively for that particular business.

These standards provide the tools and methods needed to create innovation, and teach organizations how to find and select partners to work with on innovation projects. These innovation standards are constantly evolving to suit the constantly evolving innovation landscape.

These standards are designed for permanent organizations, and so temporary ones may not find that they align with their company’s strategies. However, for the right organizations, these standards help make innovation both visible and standardized, in turn helping to boost the organization’s ability to innovate.