An intrapreneur is an employee within an organisation who uses his/her initiative to act like an entrepreneur.

Some organisations such as Google and 3M strongly encourage intrapreneurship amongst their employees. Google allows their employees to spend 20% of their time on their own personal projects.  This is the reason why Google are constantly introducing new products such as Gmail, Google Earth and Google Apps.

Many of the products we buy today are the result of intrapreneurs e.g., Sony Playstation and the Post-it Note.

Arthur Fry, 53, a 3M chemical engineer, used to get annoyed at how pieces of paper that marked his church hymnal always fell out when he stood up to sing. He knew that Spencer Silver, a scientist at 3M, had accidentally discovered an adhesive that had very low sticking power. Normally that would be bad, but for Fry it was good. He figured that markers made with the adhesive might stick lightly to something and would come off easily. Since 3M allows employees to spend 15% of their office time on independent projects, he began working on the idea. Fry made samples and then distributed the small yellow pads to company secretaries. They were delighted with the product. 3M eventually began selling it under the name Post-it. Sales last year were more than $100 million.

One of the best known examples of intrapreneurship was a group of employees in US military manufacturer Lockheed Martin during World War II. This group was known as the “Skunk Works” team.

The group was originally named after a reference in a cartoon, and was first brought together in 1943 to build the P-80 fighter jet for the US Air Force. Because the project was to eventually become a part of the war effort, the project was internally protected and secretive. This group designed and built the fighter jet in just 143 days.

5 Responses to “Intrapreneurship”

  1. 1 carlos October 20, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Pretty good article bringing more light to the intrapreneurship phenomenon. I like the example of Google!

  2. 2 Mr. Hannon October 20, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Thanks for the comment Carlos. Good luck with the PhD.

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  4. 4 business owner January 14, 2015 at 7:20 pm

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  1. 1 This Week « SGC Business Trackback on October 16, 2008 at 7:51 pm

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