There is no I in Team, but there is an I in intrapreneur

Intrapreneurs are quite the excitable bunch.  I find myself constantly trying to get other people inside Intuit to adopt the new ideas and techniques that I learn.  Earlier in my career I would often wonder why very few of my co-workers were interested in learning.   They would respond positively when I shared things with them, but I would almost never see them dive in further or apply the techniques I was trying to teach them.

If  only I knew the things then, that I know now.

There is nothing wrong with trying to influence others inside your organization, but change of any kind starts with you.

Whether you want them to or not, your own beliefs are what transfers to others.   Every thing you do, every day is a signal to those around you.  Are you emitting the right signals?   If there is even a bit of doubt in you, then others will pick up on that.

Whatever change you’re trying to make in your organization must start with you.   Continue to practice your new skills until you firmly believe in them.   At that point you should have built significant trust with your team.   They will be much more open to trying new tools & techniques after consistently seeing you exercise them successfully.

Here are a few areas you can focus on as an intrapreneur:

Personal development / Innovation time

BLOCK off 5-10% of your time each week to work on growing your skills as an innovator.   If you don’t set aside time consistently, how will you be able to convince your co-workers that they should do the same?

During this time each week, determine one area from the list below below and begin to apply immediately.     Do not let anyone take this time from you!


Personal Brainstorming

Break out your notebook and look at some of the problems / issues you’ve observed recently.   After you have spent a few minutes making sure the problem / issue is stated clearly, challenge yourself to spend 20 – 30 minutes trying to come up with as many solutions as possible.

If you’re interested in some great techniques to help you generate a BUNCH of ideas, check out 25 Useful Brainstorming Techniques.

Not only will this exercise help you be a better at brainstormer, but you will come up with great solutions to your own problems and feel better as a result.

Personal Business Model Canvas

The business model canvas is a great tool for pushing your thinking for a new product idea or a personal business model.   If you’re interested in a deeper dive into this technique be sure to check out the free preview of Business Model You.   By spending the time to document your personal business model you will better understand where you should focus your personal innovation efforts.

After you’ve documented your personal canvas, step back and think about the areas where you didn’t feel confident in your answers.   Were there areas where you wish you had the person sitting here to ask?   These are the areas where you need to begin applying your innovation skills immediately.

If you realized that you don’t have deep empathy for your customers, partners, etc.  You can dive in and start fixing that problem.   If you don’t have the right partnerships in place to move quickly then you can begin the process of building those relationships.

This is not a one time thing, be sure to come back and visit your business model canvas at some frequency to help you stay focused.


Empathy for your ___________

Creating new products and services is all about solving problems for customers.   If you reflect this thinking on yourself then you will see that you need to have some significant empathy skills.   You can apply these with your boss, co-workers, partners, etc.   Your deep understanding of the needs of these folks will be invaluable to you and your team.

As you learn about each of these customers, document what you know and share it with your team at appropriate times.    “Hey team, we should consider delivering this report by hand rather than e-mailing since Julie (our customer) spends most of her weekends reviewing email”.   Intrapreneurs think and do differently.

You can gain empathy by observing or interviewing your customer.   As you identify emotions and motivations for each customer you might also want to put yourself into similar situations.

Run an experiment

Your ability to create ultra-rapid prototypes and get visceral feedback from customers is extremely important.   When you can get the answer to any behavioral question in a matter of hours your co-workers will continuously turn to you and ask for help.

Start with something simple, you don’t need to solve world hunger.   Start by getting co-workers to recycle more,  wash their hands more thoroughly or even do something positive for someone else.   Just as you would do with a product, follow the process:

  • brainstorm your assumptions
  • Choose the leap of faith
  • Create a falsifiable hypothesis
  • Build an experiment
  • Run it quickly
  • Document what you learned as a result
  • Repeat

The more often you do this, the better you will get and you will also be making a positive impact on your company and co-workers.


These are just a few ideas for you, but I challenge you to START TODAY.   Don’t just tell your team mates about these great new innovative practices, SHOW THEM.   After you try some of these, I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.