The Intrapreneur’s 10 Commandments

If you find yourself in a big company, you can still be "intrapreneurial" — a term that refers to entrepreneurial activities in an otherwise non-entrepreneurial environment. Here are 10 Commandments of the Intrapreneur:

1. Come to work each day willing to be fired.

2. Circumvent any orders aimed at stopping your dream.

3. Do any job needed to make your project work, regardless of your job description. (BC: Or, as Eric Reis puts it: "In any situation it is your responsibility, using your best judgment, to do what you think is in the best interests of the company. That's it. Everything else [in your job description] is only marketing.")

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 goals, but be realistic about the ways to achieve them.

10. Honor your sponsors.

A gentler version is here, both I think are attributed to Gifford Pinchot.

6 Responses to The Intrapreneur’s 10 Commandments

  1. Krishna says:

    On #8 – Just make sure while the bosses eventually choose to forgive and bury their hatchets, they don’t put a marker on the site.

    Normally nobody forgets where they buried it.

  2. Interesting post, but my research has shown that you dont have to be nearly as brazen or daring.

    Interestingly, I found that the most successful entrepreneurs were those who 1) mitigated risk, and 2)created coalitions of support (not stuck out).

    Further, those who were most successful within corporations did 1)not what they were told, but what needed to be done, and 2) expanded their permission sets – not just waiting for a promotion.

    Seems successful entrepreneurs act more like thoughtful insiders, and successful intrepreneurs act more like creative outsiders…

    Rick Smith
    The Leap

  3. I don’t know if it’s a blessing or not that the English language has room for cute coined words like “intrapreneur”.

    The American Heritage Dictionary’s definition of it as “a person within a large corporation who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product through assertive risk-taking and innovation” is good, though, and makes the word seem serviceable.

    Risk-taking and innovation are the operative words there, so Rick Smith’s finding that “those who were most successful within corporations did not what they were told, but what needed to be done” is appropriate, even though he doesn’t tell us how risk is mitigated or how rigorous the protocols of his “research” were.

    When I was Ben’s age, working for corporate swashbucklers seemed about as desirable or as morally defensible as working for Murder, Inc.

    Yet the most tyrannical employers I ever had were the little old ladies I gardened for as a teenager, who could be heartless except when they made me quiche or got me loaded on gin and tonics.

    I actually learned more about human psychology from them (so that I could use it against them) than I did from the crooked contractor I used to mix whiskey and sodas for (for both of us, of course) as we rode around in his El Camino.

    These ten commandments apply as well to other workers as they do to intrapreneurs, but the person with mouths to feed besides his own might disagree that he should “come to work each day willing to be fired.”

  4. Ross Parker says:

    Is this Bunny Colvin’s strategy in the Wire?

  5. Hallicious says:

    In my experience 4 and 6 require a good deal of patience as an intrapreneur.

    I think of Andy Dufresne, from the movie The Shawshank Redemption, writing a letter a day to build out that library… a lot.

    Relationships and persistence rule the day.

  6. Hallicious says:

    In my experience 4 and 6 require a good deal of patience as an intrapreneur.

    I think of Andy Dufresne, from the movie The Shawshank Redemption, writing a letter a day to get that library built, a lot while I’m at work.

    Relationships and persistence rule the day.

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