An intrapreneur often has much in common with an entrepreneur. And while some qualities are naturally present in some people, they can also be acquired and developed. The company can also put in place tools, processes or levers to help its employees acquire the skills required to be a good intrapreneur.

The 5 qualities of an intrapreneur

In an article for Apress, George Watt outlines the 5 qualities that make a good intrapreneur.

  • They are passionate about the problem they are solving. A good intrapreneur is firmly focused on improving the lives of those who are confronted with the irritant he or she is trying to remove. Often they have experienced the irritant themselves. That is why they want to change things. The advantage is that this experience gives him a great deal of empathy towards the users of his solution.
  • They are curious, adaptable and willing to improve. Early on, an intrapreneur wears several hats (management, marketing, product management, etc.). They don't necessarily know how to do everything from the start. What is important is to be curious, adaptable and to learn quickly.
  • It is based on hard data and can be challenged. According to George Watt, the quickest way to lose the trust of your sponsors is to ignore facts and experimental results. An intrapreneur who relies on results, and not on prejudices or assumptions, is more likely to find better ways forward.
  • It is transparent. That's the best way to gain the trust of his sponsors. Even when the news is bad. It is the ability to bounce back that matters most!
  • It is resilient. In this regard, George Watt tells the story of an intrapreneur, who said that his best and worst days were often the same day. Like an entrepreneur, an intrapreneur starts with an idea and works hard to develop it. He or she often faces obstacles, and therefore has to be resilient.

You can help your intrapreneurs to develop certain skills

The founder of Board of Innovation, Nick de Mey, has written an article in which he highlights 5 key skills to develop in order to become an intrapreneur. As you will see, these skills are more easily found in some people. However, you can help your employees to acquire them!

A good knowledge of your company's internal ecosystem

Just as an entrepreneur needs to know his or her market well, an intrapreneur needs to know the internal ecosystem of the company well. This ecosystem includes: the different roles of the employees, the corporate culture, the management structure, the internal tools...

There are several tools and levers that can help you to help your employees to understand this ecosystem. For example :

  • Internal MOOCs. They will be useful during onboarding, but also throughout the employee's life in the company.
  • Internal learning expeditions. That is to say, physical or digital events to get to know and understand the company better.
  • A good organisation chart. It's always useful!

The meaning of networking

In the case of an intrapreneur, this networking sense must include a good grasp of the internal political games. Because in the corporate context, it is essential to have the right network and the right sponsors to bring a new project to fruition.

Some tools and levers exist to help your employees learn to network within the company. For example :

  • Regular internal speeches. Feedback, webinars, etc. In short, highlights that help to better identify each other's specialities and strengths.
  • Here too, internal MOOCs can help you. You can organise training on networking, how to present your idea to someone, how to speak in a new environment, etc.
  • Cross-cutting workshops. They will enable employees who do not know each other to get to know each other and to think together.
Intrapreneur illustration

An intrapreneur must know the internal innovation processes

As mentioned above, it is essential for an intrapreneur to use concrete data and an innovation process to validate hypotheses, then experiment, and then deploy the idea. You can help your employees to become familiar with these new methods:

  • No need to explain why MOOCs are still useful in this case 😉
  • Organise and lead experimentation groups to help your intrapreneurs move through this delicate stage.
  • Offer checklists for intrapreneurs. This will give them the keys to success!
  • Disseminate internal guides to the innovation process.

A taste for lifelong learning

As mentioned in this article on the culture of innovation, it is essential to develop a culture of continuous learning. To do this, the company must of course value learning and the acquisition of new knowledge or skills.

  • Once and for all: internal MOOCs are a very useful tool for creating this kind of culture.
  • Also think about social learning. Indeed, the circulation of skills is not just a top-down process. It can be very interesting to set up a more transversal system, which will circulate knowledge and skills horizontally within your community of employees.
  • Rewards and recognition are also essential. Indeed, to embed the issue of learning in your corporate culture, take the time to recognise those who are in the right frame of mind. Recognition can take many forms. For example, you can take inspiration from our article on rewards atcollaborative innovation.