Liberating Leadership, Innovation and Creativity

Gifford Pinchot SOLVING PROBLEMS

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Entrepreneurship isn’t about leaving your 9-5 job to start a company. It’s passion – a passion to solve problems and scale your project in the right direction. And to passionately solve problems within an industry doesn’t require starting a brand new company. Sometimes, all it takes is opportunity and support.

This is where intrapreneurialism comes in. And the idea is growing in popularity on a large scale. More and more large organisations are putting programs in place to encourage intrapreneurship. Likewise, there is an increase in companies, like Pinchot & Co., whose sole mission is to help
organizations celebrate and cater to their intrapreneurs.

Pinchot & Co. was founded over 30 years ago, by Gifford Pinchot III and his wife Libba, to liberate the creativity and passion of employees and drive profitable innovation inside of sizeable firms. To launch the intrapreneuring movement, they wrote Intrapreneuring: Why You Don’t Have to Leave the Corporation to Become and Intrapreneur. The book was wildly successful, being translated into 15 different languages, and began the long string of offering with their, now, long-term clients.

For the past 34 years, Pinchot & Co. has been helping companies use the intrapreneurial spirit of their employees to launch over 800 new products and services, implement new strategies, cut costs, address climate change, and improve functional performances.

We spoke to Pinchot about how employees can navigate the resistance of the organisational immune system, how upper management can best utilise their intrapreneurs, and a brief forecast of the intrapreneurial scene.

How exactly does Pinchot & Co. help companies encourage and utilise intrapreneurs within their company?

Gifford Pinchot III: There are 3 main phases:

1. Widespread education in the basics of innovation and intrapreneurship: Intrapreneurs can come from anywhere in the company. Many potential intrapreneurs, when they hear stories about intrapreneurs, have sudden realisations about who they really are. Even a mere 2-hour online training
has surfaced a lot of intrapreneurs and given managers a sense of what to do when they seek coaching and support.

2. Quick successes: Accelerators that help would-be intrapreneurs develop their vision, team, and business plan. We couple the accelerator with a module in the high potential training that develops managers’ ability to understand and coach intrapreneurs. Then we guide those managers in coaching the accelerator participants. The accelerators get quick wins, build internal support for intrapreneuring and leave a cohort of developed intrapreneurs and sponsors. Using intrapreneurs to cut expenses, but not jobs, is another way to get some guaranteed ultra-quick wins.

3. Institutional intrapreneurial systems and culture: This requires studying the culture and targeted organisational, system, and mindset changes. It includes building a “community of the willing,” committed to make the organisation better, safer, more resilient, and stronger. It requires bringing the rest of the employees along at a pace they can embrace.

What is the “organisational
immune system?”

GP: The organisational immune system is an evocative name for the web of resistance that too often bogs down intrapreneurs. In the formal decision system, there are too many people who have to say yes to an innovative idea. It’s the collective weight of all the decisions and delays that discourages
innovation.