What is intrapreneurship and why is it important for the success of innovation?

An intrapreneur is an entrepreneurial spirit operating under the umbrella of a large organisation. A successful intrapreneur must be an entrepreneur at heart while at the same time be able to fluently speak, understand, and live corporate language and culture.

So, what defines an intrapreneur? Tomas Chamorro-Pemuzic describes it so well:

The first is a focus on selling, as intrapreneurs excel at taking dormant ideas or standby projects and revitalising them with their influence and sales skills. One of the chief obstacles for innovation in large corporations is the fact that many good ideas — including creative ideas that were poorly executed — suffer from a lack of timing, sponsorship, or salesmanship. Recognising what these ideas are and having the vision, gravitas, and resilience to bring these ideas to the right people — internally and externally — will turn you into a strong change agent. Even people who are hailed as great innovators, such as Steve Jobs, did not actually invent much of anything — but had the vision and marketing skills to make existing ideas more enticing, and to make other people want to buy them.

A second critical competency is to be more proactive, which means making things happen as opposed to waiting for things to happen. If there is one trait leaders rightly adore in their employees, its the capacity to get stuff done, and that is purely a function of pro-activity. Proactive people take initiative and move quicker than their peers.

They also are not afraid of making mistakes and prefer to apologise than to ask for permission. In the wrong culture, this will of course get them into trouble. But they are typically not bothered by that, because they are interested in their job only if they can make an impact. This approach to work very much mirrors the key characteristics of inclusive leaders, which are a combination of curiosity, passion, humility, and a fearless devotion to change. Nobody is a leader for the sake of keeping things as they are. The essence of leadership is change, and pro-activity is the fuel for any force of change.

extract from Why you should become an Intrapreneur
by Tomas Chamorro-Pemuzic
for Harvard Business Review

Embrace the intrapreneurial energy

Large corporations must start acknowledging the potential in intrapreneurs. They need to realise these natural forces are absolutely instrumental for corporations to be successful with driving and executing innovation.

Innovate through Microsoft Teams

Encourage your employees to share ideas through the digital tools they use every day. 

Intrapreneurship is as important for the development of the business sector and society, as Entrepreneurship. I’m also convinced that it is crucial to keep your company future proof. If corporations, on top of having the know-how and resources, figure out how to successfully foster and fuel intrapreneurship, the speed and precision for how industries innovate will redouble.

woman at the gym starting at a dumbell

“It’s been six months since I joined the gym and no progress, I’m going there in person tomorrow to see what’s really going on.”

Well, I believe it is the same thing with a gym membership as it is with intrapreneurship for a corporation. It is good for your image, but it doesn’t do much for you unless you’re willing to make room for it and put in some hard work. And if corporations are successful with that, I don’t believe there will be any start-ups that can outsmart large corporations when it comes to innovation.


Very inspiring and highly practical with easily applicable frameworks and full of examples…..will bring a lot “live” already next week related to some of our projects that should be driven as true start-ups instead, with all the relevant conditions given for the intrapreneur and the team to succeed!! Extremely valuable pieces of advice. I recommend you to read it!

Johan Rosenberg,
VP commercial division Oriflame

Become a Corporate Hacker

Written by Åsa Caap

A Stockholm based entrepreneur/intrapreneur helping corporations fuel Innovation and foster Intrapreneurship. Former Global Innovation Dir. at ABSOLUT VODKA and later founder and CEO of Our/Vodka, that she ran under the umbrella of the world’s second largest spirit company, as an intrapreneur for 7 years. She has several patents of her own and is a member of the Swedish Inventor Society.

April 23, 2020


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