Intrapreneurship was first defined in 1978 by Gifford and Elizabeth Pinchot and referred to free market entrepreneurship within the corporate organization. Lately, however, this practice has become a critical means for companies of all sizes to ignite innovation within their ranks and leapfrog ahead of the competition.
According to consulting firm Ernst & Young’s article on intrapreneurship, there are two cultural factors necessary for an intrapreneurship initiative to get off the ground: encouragement and support from senior management and reassurance that even when ideas fail, intrapreneurs will not lose their jobs or be punished in other ways.
This is easier said than done. After all, the post-recession business climate is a risk-averse one. Senior managers’ priority is to keep the organization afloat, sometimes at the expense of driving new growth. Intrapreneurship sounds good written down, but when the time comes to actively implement it, many executives are understandably squeamish.
One Step at a Time
Some conglomerates are championing the concept anyway. On Fast Company’s co.exist blog, Jennifer Silberman, the vice president of corporate responsibility at Hilton, says her company’s intrapreneurial efforts mostly reside in corporate responsibility (CR) for now.
Silberman claims that some of Hilton’s most significant accomplishments of late, including LightStay (which calculates a hotel’s environmental impact), were developed as a result of intrapreneurship. “Employees identified the opportunity to create a new product to track the sustainability footprint of our properties,” she says. “This tool was rolled out across the enterprise and has not only resulted in reduced energy, water use, waste and carbon outputs, but also has generated over $147 million in cost savings.”
Check out the full post at the AMEX Open Forum.