The adage “ideas are cheap and execution is key” fits for intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs alike. Knowing which project management skills to hone, though, is another story.
Striking out on your own versus building something within a company (the classic entrepreneur vs intrapreneur question) requires a different mentality – and with it, a slightly different project management definition.
If you want to make impact as an intrapreneur – someone who acts like an entrepreneur within their job and reaps many of the same benefits – you’ll want to pay attention to these project management skills.
The definition of intrapreneurship
Intrapreneurs operate like entrepreneurs within a company. They provide:
- Creative ideas to solve problems
- Boundary-pushing and necessary feedback
- Work outside their traditional job description
On top of creativity and other entrepreneurial traits, the intrapreneur also has to become a master communicator. If approached in the wrong way, co-workers may perceive intrapreneurial initiative as “stealing jobs”, sucking up, or politicking – any of these will crush support for the intrapreneur and their projects.
At the most fundamental level, intrapreneurs identify problems within their organization and either build the solution themselves or work with others in the company to solve it. An intrapreneur is not always the person doing all the work, giving a lot of room to ensure no one steps on anyone else’s toes.
Project management skills: Office environment analysis
When it comes to entrepreneurs vs intrapreneurs, both share a common requirement of identifying goals. It’s the start and end of any project, because if you don’t know where you’re going then you’ll end up somewhere you likely don’t want to be.
Getting a sense of your office environment will also help you overcome and mental blocks at work during the project.
Intrapreneurs have the added task of identifying goals in the context of the office environment – you have to work with what’s there. Look for things like:
Check if your company has an explicit corporate value around being creative, innovative, or entrepreneurial. If not, you’ll need to ensure goals are big enough to be impactful but not so big that they don’t align with corporate values.
Understanding the nuances of how people spread information, communicate, and build relationships will help you find the champion and stakeholders who will support your projects.
Timing and other “hooks”
In an entrepreneurial venture, founders can make bold moves, sometimes turning the whole organization around in a single day. As an intrapreneur, you’ll need to present ideas in a way that fit naturally with what’s already going on at the organization.
Over time, you may be able to change the whole company with your innovation. But moving a big ship with an established crew requires knowing when to suggest the radical ideas and when to work quietly in the background.