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.



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globalEarlier this year I had the pleasure of co-presenting the keynote for annual Hackomotive event.    Myself and Ben Blank did our best to get the 150+ participants excited about changing the face of the automotive industry by creating new products and services that customers LOVE.   Today, the only steps in the car buying process that most customers love is driving their new car home.
This post is not intended to give a complete view into the event, but you can go visit the Hackomotive site for more details.

Event Preview
One of the things I found most fascinating about this event was that all of the teams were made up of external participants.   This meant that Edmunds was required to have a solid API in place that would allow teams to move quickly.   Another point to note is that this was the first hackathon I have participated in that was focused on a specific vertical.   This meant that not only did the participants primarily come from this industry, but all of the judges as well.
The team at Edmunds did a great job getting participants to focus on key areas of pain in the car shopping, buying and ownership process.   After spending some time focused on problems, the key areas of focus were aggregated and teams were formed around the key problem areas.  At this point, the teams went off on their own to try to create something amazing in a little less than 2 days.
This is where the fun really began for Ben and I.   We got the opportunity to jump in an coach the teams and help them dive deep into understanding their customers and determining the best way to run rapid experiments with their customers to learn as much as possible.    As the teams were able to gather behavioral data from their customers they had greater chances of being able to influence the judges with data instead of conjecture.

Day 1
Near the end of day 1 teams had the opportunity to pitch their progress to the judges and get early feedback.  This was extremely valuable to the teams and most of them did a great job of incorporating feedback from the judges.   I also took notes and went back to coaching the teams and helping them come up with rapid experiments they could use to prove or disprove that the feedback from the judges was accurate for their business.
After this late push, many of the teams worked well into the night on and their passion for the problem space was very apparent.

Day 2
The biggest surprise of the event came after all of the teams were done pitching and the judges were deliberating.  They ended up in a situation where they had a tie between two of the teams and couldn’t get out of the deadlock.   The judges applied some outside the box thinking and called in the Edmunds CEO, gave him a little context and asked if he would be willing to double the prize money.  Without hesitation he agreed.
I thoroughly enjoyed helping out at this event and I’m looking forward to helping out with Hackomotive again next year.   Be ready because we will definitely push the teams even further next time!
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I Know How to Run Experiments, Now What? (part 2)

Welcome to part two of “I Know How to Experiment, Now What?”   If you missed part one, you can read about it  here.   My hope is to keep showcasing situations that you should keep an eye out for.  If you spot these, they are great opportunities in your enterprise where you can apply your new rapid experimentation and customer empathy skills immediately.


Our existing sales / marketing tactics are not working for this new product

I frequently see organizational structures and operating mechanisms that won’t support new products.   You have the tools to fix it!

For example:  One of your innovation teams in the enterprise comes up with a great new product idea.  They conduct some early research, work with customers and determine that it’s going to be your company’s next great product.   They build the product and then come to your sales or marketing team to ask you to begin selling the product.

As a result you begin to reach out to existing customers using existing sales tactic and find that your sales numbers are far below that of your existing products.   This disconnect is occurring because the sales / marketing processes for each product are unique.  The likelihood that your existing product and the new product have exactly the same target customer segment is extremely unlikely.

Use your new found experimentation and customer empathy skills to get inside the head of this new customer and understand what is important to them.   Search for the sales or marketing processes, tactics and strategies that will work for this new product.   Once you can do this successfully then you can create a reusable process.

Don’t assume that your existing processes will work for new products right out of the box.



We have a new product /service we would like to get to market quickly

In the enterprise, we often see that innovation is handled backwards from how it would work in a startup.  We see that teams do a small amount of work to validate that their idea is interesting and then they start promoting it like mad to leadership to get additional time or funding to work on their idea.

The moment an unenlightened senior leader gets excited about the new idea they will immediately start applying their great execution skills to the project.  They will begin asking many questions that will be focused on execution:  When will this be ready to market to our customers?   When can our sales team be trained?  How much revenue will this generate during the next fiscal year?

While these are important questions to answer, they are typically asked too early and end up giving the new product team whiplash.

This is the type of situation where you can quickly apply your rapid experimentation skills.  You can simply take the questions from senior leadership, convert them to “assumptions”, prioritize them and begin testing them like any other assumption.   Following this process will also show the leader that you have taken their feedback to heart and allow you to bring back the answers based on customer-based experiments rather than a creative writing or PowerPoint exercise that we typically get pulled into in large corporations.


There are TONS of great places for you to apply your new skills.  Keep on the lookout and hone your investigative skills.  You’ll soon see opportunities daily!

Part 3 coming soon…

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