Social Intrapreneurship — Creating Change From the Inside
No, it’s not a typo! Entrepreneurship and INTRApreneurship are certainly related, but with an important distinction: while social entrepreneurs establish separate enterprises to create social good, social intrapreneurs create that social good from inside an existing entity.
What is Social Intrapreneurship?
Steve McCreadie, Founder of the social enterprise The Lens, defines it this way:
Social intrapreneurship (noun): Successful adaptation of entrepreneurial attitudes and strategies inside of a bureaucratic organization
While the concept isn’t new, Steve argues that intrapreneurship is needed now more than ever. Most organizations are so busy delivering today that they aren’t focused on transforming tomorrow, and our ‘corporate immune systems’ are very adept at killing off new ideas.
Intrapreneurship is a way to drive innovation in even these seemingly unlikely environments. Steve shares ways we can nurture these intrapreneurial skills from the stage at TedxGlasgow:
What is a Social Intrapreneur?
Social intrapreneurs are employees that start initiatives within existing institutions — corporate, education, public, or nonprofit — that create social and/or environmental good, while moving the institution’s mission forward. They use existing infrastructures and organisational capabilities as levers to deliver social value on a large scale.
The Intrapreneurship Initiative catalogues how the term gained traction after the book was published, appearing in Time Magazine that same year and again in Newsweek in 1986 when Steve Jobs used it to describe the Macintosh team. In 1992, the term was added to the American Heritage Dictionary, and less than ten years later the first Intrapreneurship Conference was held in London in 2011.
Three years later, Forbes magazine declared the social intrapreneur ‘2014s Most Valuable Employee.’ The adoption of intrapreneurial initiatives within large companies has taken off since then, and the term ‘intrapreneurship’ has continued to evolve as its been popularized by mainstream culture.
Getting Started as a Social Intrapreneur
From our work helping some of the world's most admired brands launch, scale, and/or optimize social impact programs, we’ve learned a few things about what it takes to drive change from within.
In our Guide to Social Intrapreneurship, we've combined our lessons with leading frameworks and resources to help you identify ideas, get buy-in, and create lasting change. Download our guide by by submitting the form below to:
Learn the 5 steps to scaling impact at your company
See real-world examples from leading corporations
Access templates to help you take the first steps
Understand the frameworks you’ll need to drive change
Learn how you can get the experience you need to create change at your organization
Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.
Innovation by definition will not be accepted at first. It takes repeated attempts, endless demonstrations, monotonous rehearsals before innovation can be accepted and internalized by an organization. This requires 'courageous patience.'
- Warren Bennis
Examples of Intrapreneurial Innovation
Accenture's not-for-profit consulting group
Gib Bulloch shares his personal story of how he became the Founder and Executive Director of Accenture Development Partnerships (ADP), a ring-fenced not-for-profit consulting group within Accenture, whose clients include many of the major international NGOs and development agencies.
Microsoft's internal carbon fee
Tamara diCaprio at Microsoft launched a new reporting practice that makes every business unit fiscally accountable for its energy consumption by charging a carbon fee. The proceeds of those fees then go into a fund for purchasing renewable energy and carbon offsets. The results speak for themselves - in the first 3 years alone, Microsoft reduced company-wide emissions by 7.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (mtCO2e) through investments in efficiency, green power, and carbon offset community projects.
Vodafone's M-PESA Mobile Money Transfer Service
Two middle managers from Vodafone and Safaricom launched the mobile payment product M-PESA from within their established companies in 2007. As of 2012, M-Pesa had over 17 million customers, many of whom previously did not have bank accounts.
Nick Hughes, one of the original team who created M-PESA, talks about how the mobile money transfer platform emerged and quickly took off in Kenya. He also discusses his latest venture, M-KOPA, a start-up that finances solar energy lighting for low income households In Kenya.
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