Learning & Development

How intrapreneurship programs give you a competitive edge

Did you know that more than 50% of Gen Z-ers aim to start their own business? As organizations strive to capture the next generation of talent, understanding their needs and training them to take on leadership and innovation roles will be key. Today we are covering intrapreneurship programs and how organizations can use them to gain a competitive edge.

What Is Intrapreneurship?

To begin this conversation, we first have to define what intrapreneurship is.

An intrapreneur is a leader who works within the confines of your organization to innovate instead of starting their own business. These employees will use company resources to brainstorm and create new products and services.

Organizations need intrapreneurs. Otherwise, companies can become stale or simply follow the lead of other companies in their industry. Innovative employees help companies think of interesting ideas to try.

Post-It® Notes as an Example of Intrapreneurship

If you want to understand the power of intrapreneurship, look no further than 3M’s Post-It® Notes brand. Post-It® Notes started as a collaboration between two 3M scientists: Dr. Spencer Silver and Art Fry.

Dr. Silver worked on finding new adhesives at 3M. The adhesive used in Post-It® Notes wasn’t what most people were looking for. For the most part, people wanted stronger adhesives. The adhesive that Dr. Silver discovered held a light bond that could be taken off without damaging what it stuck to.

Art Fry, another 3M scientist and member of a church choir, was growing frustrated. Before these sticky notes, he was writing on tiny scraps of paper in his church hymnal. Unfortunately, these paper scraps weren’t very helpful because they would fall out.

Art Fry began thinking that the adhesive Dr. Silver discovered could be used for bookmarks. With further testing of how these notes could be used to communicate, Post-It® Notes began to take shape.

Now, Post-It® Notes is a huge brand underneath the 3M umbrella, with tons of products being sold every day. However, this innovative product wouldn’t have been easily discovered without intrapreneurship because 3M’s focus wasn’t on products with light adhesive.

Best of all, innovative employees like Dr. Spencer Silver and Art Fry stayed with 3M until their respective retirements in the 1990s. Companies that don’t encourage innovation could see these employees feel underappreciated, leading to employee turnover and/or a toxic workplace.

5 Intrapreneurship Program Benefits

Now that we understand what intrapreneurship is, let’s dig into some of the benefits of a program like this when implemented at your organization.

Intrapreneurship Programs Help You Keep Your Best Talent In-House

Entrepreneurship is easier to pursue now than ever before. The playing field continues to be leveled with easy access to information online. As a result, the future generation cares about owning their own business and chasing their dreams.

Your organization has a ton of powerful minds and innovative thinkers. The next step in their career doesn’t have to be finding another company that values them or working for themselves.

Organization leaders know the struggles of running a business. Your company has built a ton of working relationships and resources. Sharing those resources with team members helps them feel valued and keeps them inside your organization.

Intrapreneurship Drives Creativity and Innovation at Work

Creativity and innovation are essential to creating unique and interesting products and services for your target market. On the other hand, stale thinking leads to feeling and looking obsolete to current and potential customers.

When you let employees innovate and create things that are interesting to them, you could create a product that your customers were looking for.

Again, let’s go back to the Post-It® Notes example. Once they finally got these products into people’s hands, it blew them away and created viral growth for the product. As a result, 3M customers were able to purchase something simple that made their lives easier.

Intrapreneurship Strengthens Employee Engagement

When employees work on something they are passionate about, employee engagement increases significantly.

As your organization strives to improve its relationship with workers, try to offer projects that excite your team.

Focus on creating a balance of innovation and projects that need to be worked on to keep up with industry standards.

Intrapreneurship Programs Can Be a Recruitment Booster

As you try to showcase your organization’s strengths, consider how you support your team.

Highlighting your organization’s intrapreneurship program can be a wonderful selling point for employees who are struggling to choose between being an employee and an entrepreneur.

Let potential employees know that you value innovative thinking. For example, you could:

  • Show how employee feedback goes into each new product launch at your organization.
  • Feature innovative employees in recruitment material.
  • Create an employee referral program so that innovative employees can easily recruit their friends.

Intrapreneurship Can Bring in More Revenue for Your Organization

What was your personal introduction to the 3M brand? Most people would say Post-It® Notes was one of their first introductions to this company. From there, they probably checked out another 3M brand like Command™ or Scotch™. It all starts with being introduced to sticky notes.

Innovation within 3M introduced a flagship product that can lead to customers discovering other 3M-owned brands. Post-It® Notes made 3M more approachable to the average consumer.

If you are trying to bring in more money for your organization, give company employees a chance to innovate and research products that your audience will love. Your team members work with customers, listen to their concerns, and guide them through your products/services. If you are looking for a new product, your team is probably teeming with money-making ideas.

How to Make Intrapreneurship Work at Your Organization

So, how do you make intrapreneurship programs work within your organization? Here are a few tips:

  • Get company buy-in. Everyone needs to be on board (especially company leaders).
  • Set parameters on who gets the credit. Your intrapreneurship program won’t work if the organization takes sole ownership of the innovation without a nod to the employees. Set parameters around what happens if the innovation is successful.
  • Give employees time. Innovative thinking takes time. Product development isn’t easy. So you might have to invest some time and money before the project takes off.


Innovation at work is key to the continued success of organizations. Being an industry follower will not lead to organizational growth. You have to be an industry leader and stand out with interesting ideas. Intrapreneurship programs help take companies to the next level.

Do you want to create an intrapreneurship program at your organization? You could easily run the community behind this program with Workrowd! Reach out to us at to see if our product is right for your organization.

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