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do corporates want employees to be entrepreneurial, aka intrapreneurial

Updated: Jan 6, 2023

In the past decade in an ever-growing number of professional profiles (including mine) and across corporate floors you could more and more frequently see and hear terms "entrepreneurial spirit", "entrepreneurial mindset" (quite often associated with an idea generation competition, with a voucher-like prize and a feature in the corporate newsletter, maybe even a CSR report).

Overused outside and inside of the corporate world, the “entrepreneurial” has become the epitome of the bold move a corporate employee has no courage to pursue.

For all my corporate peers and based on my humble experience, here is what "entrepreneurial" doesn't mean and actually is in a corporate setting:

Firstly, "entrepreneurial" is not equal "thinking outside of the box". Yes, "outside of the box" sometimes find its place in working business models, often - not. Some of the unicorns we are looking up to - in a nutshell, a replica which successfully beats the competition with incredible <...> (in the brackets the difference shines). What about VC? They actually don't like one of a kind, no competition ideas.

Then if entrepreneurial is not about generating ideas, what it is about? Your attitude to the resource. Being resourceful (sourcing) and having the ability to work with resources you have on hand efficiently to deliver results exceeding expectations of customers and the company.

For those in the corporate field, you’ve surely encountered junior and middle management moaning about if they just had more power and a bigger budget they would’ve actually wow you, but because they don’t there is a situation of unrealized profit, declining sales, suppliers' disappointment (translate: that’s why there is no result).

Based on my experience, if you are lousy and you look at power and responsibility as two separate things, do a crappy job in small things at the level where you are - high chance (certainly) you will do the very same things but on a grander scale at higher organizational cost once you have more power and budget.

The same type of people refers to the lack of result to poor quality of the available resources be it an office setup, parking situation, air quality, IT connection (who doesn’t like to complain about IT - me too), non-qualified employees and not committed team members.

On a side note, this is one of the first filtering criteria of entrepreneurs vs wanna-be-entrepreneurs who would surely build the best "Snowflake-like" unicorn if they just had maybe Warren Buffet vested.

Back to the corporate setting. It is 70% responsibility of a manager (all levels implied) to be clear with him/herself, realistic of resources available on hand (human capital, systems, connections, bargaining and brand powers), assess the potential of each resource and develop a path to maximize the available.

The challenge and the thrill of all of it - is the process which is not linear. I bet on the process, I love the process. And I hope reflection on the above will make you feel even more comfortable of managing both - yourself, your team, your organization, whilst being entrepreneurial.


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