5 lessons learned from intrapreneurship projects

May 30, 2023

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, organizations increasingly recognize the importance of fostering innovation and entrepreneurial thinking within their own organization. To stay competitive and seize new opportunities, companies are turning to intrapreneurship programs as a means to tap into the creative potential of their employees.

At Byld, we have acquired broad experience in creating, mentoring, and managing intrapreneurship programs with top clients in banking, insurance, telco, and universities. These are the 5 top lessons we have learned from them that can help you navigate these type of challenges within your organization. 

The importance of transferring knowledge, methodology and tools

Intrapreneurs thrive when they are given the autonomy to make decisions and the necessary resources to execute their ideas. It’s important to create a framework that allows intrapreneurs to discover the territory, understand the stakeholders involved, and the top problems and opportunities, so they can explore and ideate concepts, make informed decisions, and take ownership of their projects. This includes providing access to methodology, funding if needed, mentorship and guidance, tools, and support networks within the organization to help them succeed. 

Tips

  1.  Introducing the entire methodology is important, so intrapreneurs have an overview from the beginning. Uploading the materials beforehand is useful because they can check them in advance and bring possible questions.
  2. Introducing a training session on Lean Startup will help set the starting point and define the required mindset. Consider that not all participants are flexible and open-minded. 
  3. Create a knowledge hub divided by the different phases considered in a discovery process (deep dive, market discovery, problem discovery and solution discovery and loop validation) so the team can access them in advance and can go back to the information throughout the program. 
  4. Use an example throughout the program for them to understand the process, and see how tools are used live, so they feel that there is one example being developed alongside theirs. 
  5.  Tools are difficult to embrace. Work alongside the team so they can see the value and start adopting them quickly. 

Helping the intrapreneurs embrace uncertainty is key

Innovating is directly linked to navigating uncertainty. Normally, people are not used to working with unfamiliar methodologies to them or even focusing on finding problems in means of creating a solution they can’t even imagine at first, and this is very frustrating!

Embracing this ambiguity and iteration and adaptation to find new insights under stacks of information is key. Innovation is being able to continuously ask questions, improving along the way, test, and validate. 

Being open to insights, flexible with the plan and following the methodology will lead to great results. 

Tips

  1. Stay agile and responsive: In uncertain environments, rigid plans can quickly become obsolete.
  2. Foster a culture that encourages quick decision-making and quick execution.
  3. Teach the team to validate assumptions through experimentation.
  4. Analyzing data, and breaking down the problem into smaller pieces, will help the team navigate the challenge.
  5. Transfer a mindset that embraces change, welcomes new ideas, and views uncertainty as an opportunity for growth.

Alignment of the problem owner and sponsors within the company

By establishing a strong connection with the problem owner, we will enhance the project outcomes, foster collaboration, and increase the likelihood of delivering solutions that truly resonate with the organization’s goals and objectives. 

Tips 

  1. Alignment with the problem owner translates in defining expectations, times and KPIs to set the challenges of the program.
  2. Create weekly check-ins with the owners to control the phases and outcomes.
  3. Empower the product owner with pre-readings, methodology and mentoring, so they can push the teams to thrive.
  4. Connect the teams with business areas & experts/ sponsors within the company.
  5. Stay flexible with the POs needs and doubts.

Adapting the teams to the challenge

At Byld we start our intrapreneurship programs by carefully selecting the teams. We take special attention in balancing their own knowledge, soft and hard skills and personality to create powerful, complementary teams. This is the first step to achieving the best result. 

Tips 

  1. Don’t assume candidates will be ok with the workload provided. The beginning is slow, and most candidates are weary about it once they understand the dedication required.
  2. People management is key – Example: Participants whose idea was not prioritized require an adaption period to embrace the territory “imposed”.
  3. Coordinating the teams’ agenda is complicated due to different roles and dedications: Planning in advance will help tackle this.
  4. Mock exams work and build confidence when presenting concepts and ideas.
  5. Monitor progress and stay engaged with the team. 

Team communication and collaboration is crucial

Successful intrapreneurship projects often involve collaboration across different departments and teams. Breaking down silos and fostering cross-functional collaboration can lead to diverse perspectives, improved problem-solving, and increased chances of success. Encourage open communication, knowledge sharing, and collaboration among the intrapreneurs. 

Tips 

  1. Relationships between teams do not come naturally, it is necessary from the beginning to be very active in common channels to encourage participation and conversation.
  2. Don’t expect the team to be assertive with each other because they often don’t have time for it or don’t know what to expect from each other.
  3. Set weekly “virtual sessions” from the beginning to promote remote teamwork.
  4. Intervene as soon as possible when a team’s relationship is not strong or cohesive.
  5. Biweekly in-person sessions are important to build relationships between teams and get work done. 

In conclusion, by fostering innovation and entrepreneurial thinking within organizations through intrapreneurship programs, companies can effectively navigate the challenges and unlock the creative potential of their employees to drive success in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape