Recently, I was asked by one of my fav’s, Sarah L, to come into her innovation class to talk about a subject that I have been living for 18 + years…Intrapreneurship. It is a new word that even the spell check does not recognize. I have to admit that for many years, I knew that I was working in a unique way but never really knew that there was a term for it. I always thought of myself as an entrepreneur trapped in an organizational body.
The dictionary definition is: A person within a large corporation who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product through assertive risk-taking and innovation….in a word ‘ME’. I discovered that there were words that applied to me that sounded very entrepreneurial but because I was receiving a bi-weekly pay cheque, made me an employee. Words like…creative, innovative, visionary, risk taker and every changing. I was never satisfied with the status quo and doing the same things every day within the office setting. I always looked for a void so I could fill it, things that were broken so I could fix it or problems that were out there so I could solve it. It felt good to have these opportunities. I feel both words of entrepreneur and intrapreneur run parallel to each other. Employers recognized this and allowed me to thrive. You also find someone who is either an entrepreneur or an intrapreneur, you are confident and comfortable with who you are and you are always growing…this means that if the situation changes, you look at it with an eye of opportunity and possibility and must embrace change.
Once you realize you are an intrapreneur, you can’t go back to being in a box and working in a box. Your mind and heart will not let you do that. You need to have an organization that allows you to think and work in a creative environment and that you can take risks. Fortunately, I have had organizations that have allowed that to happen. I look back at my time in ICBC, Vancouver Olympic Bid Committee, Seat to Sky Highway Improvement project, SFU and the 30+ not for profits I have been associated with.
I recently read a book called, ‘The Element’ and it is a wonderful book given to me by Sarah L…it was a book about when your natural talents meet your passion and you are in your ‘Element’. I have hit my element a few times and it is so rewarding and enjoyable. I have found that I have had job descriptions or have built job descriptions and they become the rubber stamp that I have a job but I have not adhered to what it says. The realization is that the first job or two or three might not allow you to be an intrapreneur; however, if your spirit says you are, you will start to emerge and find the opportunities. People will also recognize it and make room for you. Take the box that they put you in and as Phil Hansen said in his TED Talk – “it is only by being limited that we become limitless”
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