34 Ways to Encourage "Intrapreneurship"

For leaders, encouraging people to think like entrepreneurs is key to maintaining a competitive edge. This tool lists 34 ways to help people in your organization think creatively and become in-house entrepreneurs - or "intrapreneurs." 1. Drive out fear of failure. Fear is the innovation killer.

2. Organize teams of coworkers to track the competition and have each team focus on one product or service niche. Hold quarterly update meetings for all teams.

3. Hire a strategy consulting specialist to track competitive trends on a regular basis. Ask him or her to present findings in a completely unvarnished fashion. Tell him that his role is to make people work hard day-in, day-out.

4. Consistently ask people: "What additional products does our company need?"?"

5. Send your staff to trade fairs and exhibits and create a regular brainstorming session where people will report the high points of the trade fair. Make sure that each department has their own representatives present.

6. Create a team of inter-departmental "imagineers.Challenge them to come up with new ideas and innovations on company products.

7. Conduct regular focus groups of your customers. Study the newest products in the market, compare it to your own.

8. Put a suggestion or comment box on your site or in your newsletter. Offer an all expense paid trip to Bora Bora as an incentive for the best and most unique idea.

9. Set a goal of creating one collaborative venture with another company.

10. Develop employee interaction via brainstorming sessions, ask them the things they think the company does well. Encourage employees to do it again and again.

11. Invite employees to speak up on everything they believe the organization is not doing well. Ask for suggestions on how they would change it. Work on the most productive suggestions right away.

12. Set goals and quality standards on achieving the latest cutting-edge innovation. E.g. utilize the higher potential of your management team by having them create one new thing that adds value to the organization every month.

13. Develop an internal business venture planning department where employees are encouraged to submit plans and ideas.

14. Provide incentives for the most productive employees.

15. Implement a company wide incentive program for new and innovative ideas.

16. Emphasize the importance of innovation in hiring policies.

17. Encourage departments to engage in scenario planning. Make sure they answer the question: "What would we do if our two largest competitors merged..."

18. Be a virtuoso in the field of licensing innovative technology.

19. Create a team to zero in on increasing the number of new customers. Ask your staff to seek and find new customers everyday.

20. Be a vigilant when it comes to the latest research and development technologies.

21. Create an advisory panel of people who are most likely be your prospects. Ban yourself from going to bed until they are your clients.

22. Create a program so that staff can rotate through internal departments and learn about life in other parts of the company.

23. Create an intern program to groom untapped talent from local universities. Your employees work there for three months, their students work at your company.

24. Host a strategy meeting off hours committed to innovation. Meet in a room where there are no chairs, ask people to decorate the room.

25. Praise the positive developments!

26. Let it be known that a sense of humor, fun, and play is welcome. Create a fun environment for people to work in.

27. Print out innovative ideas in your company newsletters.

28. Communicate with a financial expert. Tell them you're interested in acquiring a company that's as entrepreneurial as yours in the same market as yours. If nothing is achievable, wait 6 months. Repeat the process.

29. Start a regular training session in creative thinking.

30. Tell people it's okay to fail. Then tell them again.

31. Institute a special holiday program for your team.

32. Start out an annual internal innovation exhibit.

33. Identify inventors in the community with whom your company would like to form a relationship. Set up an innovator relations team.

34. Hold a party where people come dressed up like their favorite inventors. Give gifts.


Eric Douglas works closely with high-level leaders to move their businesses and organizations toward higher levels of success. Eric is the senior partner and founder of Leading Resources Inc., a consulting firm that focuses on developing high-performing organizations. He specializes in helping clients achieve strategic clarity, manage change effectively, and build a strong leadership culture.

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