By encouraging innovation, we allow individuals to leverage their strengths, work on their weaknesses, and show what they’re capable of.
As an employee, I’m all for it.
But I’m also a manager—I’m accountable for the success of my students. I’m responsible for making sure they stay on track and meet specific goals before the deadlines.
I think most leaders will relate:
While intrapreneurship is exciting, it can also be intimidating.
Isn’t it a little risky? What if side projects take away from important day-to-day work?
How can we hit the target if we’re focused on what lies around and beyond it?
You wish you could offer more slack, but feel restricted by the stuff that has to get done.
Good news for the leader who’s wary:
Intrapreneurs will innovate, but “in with the new” does not mean “out with the old.”
When it comes to standardized testing, resistance is futile. Teachers know what I mean—it makes us cringe, but it has to be done.
You want to foster innovation, but don’t have the flexibility to recreate Adobe’s Kickbox. Bottom-line stuff is your top priority—as it has to be.
how can you do what you want and still get what you need?
I often let my students choose their own activities, as long as they follow the lesson. At one point, I set the curriculum aside completely and asked what they wanted to learn about.
Their response was surprising:
They didn’t go crazy and ask about Frozen or Spiderman. Instead, they brought up practical vocabulary—stuff I’d assumed that they already knew.
It turned out, my students wanted to be able to do what I asked.
It’s not fun to be confused or feel left behind. People want to know what they need to know.
They used their freedom to fill the gaps.
My students took this opportunity to learn words that would help them succeed—words they’d seen in the book’s instructions but never understood. Together, we strengthened weaknesses that I didn’t know existed.
On top of that, they used vocabulary that I’d never taught them. I wouldn’t have known these secret strengths if we’d stuck to the lesson all along.
What started as a fun (and admittedly off-topic) exercise turned out to be incredibly valuable: our discoveries improved my leadership and their performance on regular assignments.
If we think intrapreneurship competes with objectives, we’re wrong.
It may seem risky to try something out-of-the-box. But intrapreneurship is more than fun, games, and invention: it’s an effective way to optimize daily performance.
People want to be good at what they do.
When your people get better, your product gets better.
You can do what you want and get what you need.
(see also, Part I: Fixing Information Gaps with Intrapreneurship)