September 3, 2020

‘Intrapreneurship’ and the innovative organization

Encourage staff to develop networking skills, agility, and resilience


The recent pandemic has caused a series of events that have left businesses facing intense uncertainty. There is no guaranteed formula or best practice when every business is dealing with uncertainty, no matter how well they are doing. We may do something right for a while, but things can turn around faster than we expect.


Whenever we face change, our behavior shifts with it. The way we make decisions to purchase and do everyday activities has changed because of the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.


While innovation is one way to understand behavioral shifts and answer our customers’ changing needs, it can also be a strain on the resources of an organization at an already difficult time. But let’s take a step back and look at the bigger picture.


One of the many reasons that organizations find it difficult to move with change is the rigid culture they’ve built. Although rigid isn’t wrong, it isn’t sustainable for the business’s future. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, move with agility amid change and disruption, but they have their own set of challenges — limited capital and resources.


Larger organizations may have fewer issues with resources and capital, but they may come up short when it comes to entrepreneurial people. This is where “intrapreneurship” becomes crucial in both driving innovation and moving the business forward.


Intrapreneurship means being an entrepreneur inside an organization.


This works when people in the organization develop entrepreneurial skills such as creativity and risk-taking.


The truth is, it is difficult to develop those skills if we do not encourage them in the organization. It takes practice to ultimately create a culture of intrapreneurship. But we need to begin somewhere.


Here are the entrepreneurial skills to develop for effective innovation within the organization.




In any initiative you take toward innovation, always go back to what your customers need. They may not all be external, because some of us serve internal customers. For example, the main role of HR is to attract new talent while still engaging with existing staff.


Networking and connection


An entrepreneur needs to build connections for future business ventures; the same goes for intrapreneurs. In any initiative we pursue, we cannot work alone. We must build stronger relationships with our own people and our external customers to build trust and understanding. With trust and understanding, we have the right insights to work toward innovating the products and services to answer customer needs.


Active listening


This skill is basic to both customer-centrism and networking because, without it, you cannot build stronger relationships with the necessary stakeholders. It may sound easy, but active listening is far from it. While we naturally hear things, we’re usually listening passively. We’re not truly listening to understand if we are not fully engaged in our listening.


Agility and resilience


In today’s uncertain climate, changes happen very quickly. While organizations need to continue to innovate, we need to do it fast. But with innovation, failure can still happen, so resilience is paired with agility. With failure comes a lesson, but we need to find the lesson fast and get back on track.


Creative problem-solving


Innovation isn’t simply solving a problem; it is about solving complex issues both internally and externally in the most creative and cost-effective ways. Intrapreneurs should be able to catch the problem quickly (agility), ideate solutions, and prototype working models to answer the needs of customers.


Story-telling and pitching


Innovation is a process of coming up with newer ideas and solutions. The idea of “new” for large organizations that are usually rigid in their processes can be daunting. Intrapreneurs need to be able to communicate and pitch their ideas in persuasive ways to gain favor from those who are usually rigid.


While the skills required for intrapreneurship aren’t limited to the ones I’ve just outlined, they can act as a base to add upon, depending on your organization’s direction. Though seemingly time-consuming, building intrapreneurs in your organization is beneficial in two major ways. One, you build up people to become more independent and drive the organization forward. Two, you bring out the greater potential in people, who will then be able to take your business even further during tough times.


The key to organizational innovation has always been people. Let’s begin with the people inside our organizations to sustain our business for the future.


Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC – Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center. She can be reached by email at or Explore and experience our lifelong learning ecosystem today at