Thursday, May 28, 2009

On Intrapreneuring

Back home from my business trip (two hours later than I planned, I had worse..).

Today. catching up on some Blogs, I came across an interesting posting by Mark Palmer which discusses intraprenuring, which is the name of entrepreneurial behavior within a big company. I have spent most of my working life in three big organizations: The Israeli Air-Force, which has a mentality of the public sector, the Technion, which is an academic institute, and IBM, most time in IBM Haifa Research Lab. Counter to any intuitive: the air-force is organization most open to new ideas, and the academic institute is the least open, IBM is somewhere in the middle.

I have never became an entrepreneur, and when I considered it - 12 years ago, I decided to go to IBM and try intraprenuring instead. This may or may not have been the biggest mistake in my life, I don't know what would have happened if I would have chosen the alternative to go as a startup. John Bates started Apama around the same time, also coming from a university, and some times I envy him (some times I don't..).

Anyway - I have an experience of trying to act like intrapreneur in the three different organizations I mention, I also read Pinchot's book, mentioned in Mark's posting, many years ago. I find Pinchot's ten commandments, mentioned by Mark to be very valid. I am copying them again here:

  1. Come to work each day willing to be fired.
  2. Circumvent any orders aimed at stopping your mission.
  3. Do any job needed to make your project work, regardless of your job description.
  4. Find people to help you.
  5. Follow your intuition about the people you choose, and work only with the best.
  6. Work underground as long as you can – publicity triggers the corporate immune mechanism.
  7. Never bet on a race unless you are running in it.
  8. Remember it is easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission.
  9. Be true to your goal, but be realistic about the ways to achieve them.
  10. Honor your sponsors
All of these are true, and many of these are somewhat inconsistent with the way that big organizations think. I can write a paragraph about each of these ten bullets, but this will contradict the sixth commandment, so I'll leave it as is, however, at the end the result is what is being remembered, not the way taken to achieve it, go figure..


Anonymous said...

I would add one more to this list:
Verify on a daily basis that the reward you envision receiving upon success of your quest is really going to materialize.

Don't chase rainbows expecting to receive a pot of gold.

Dick Brooks

Opher Etzion said...

Hello Dick. I agree that the mission had to be reassessed peridically, but not necessarily daily. Each intrapernuer moves through a period in which achieving the goal seems far fetched, however, this is not necessarily a reason to give up..