We have all read the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, with its profound lines:
“ Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. ”
Nothing can be truer, but so hard to recognize until you have walked a good distance on that road. Looking back over my life, it has always been these less traveled routes that have made the most lasting memories, and ultimately defined who I am.
In a market setting these trail blazers are known as entrepreneurs. They buck tradition and find new ways to look at old problems, or generally see markets where none have ever existed before. Often times they are “mashing up” things that have never been related before to bring value in ways that have never been seen. They are often known as risk takers, visionaries, or trend setters; when they succeed. When they fail, well that is a different story.
These same tenants hold true inside of established companies. Amongst the masses in the corporate hallways are folks that look at the world slightly differently. They ask “why” more than they ask “when or how”. Success for them isn’t measured in today’s typical business metrics, but rather in metrics of change (that will result in business metrics for tomorrow). I am not referring to those who wear the title of R&D, Project Management, or Org Development. I am thinking of a broader class of folks that all too often are encouraged to bury these ideas in place of their more traditional job title. I am speaking of the “Intrapreneurs”.
Over the last few weeks, since re-launching CGS and pulling together 2 of our offerings: Innovation Services and Connected World Services, that I have recognized the importance of this undervalued and rarely talked about role:
- Intrapreneurs are core to the Innovation space inside of large company. No matter if they are distributed and brought together by chance, or centralized under a Chief Innovation Officer, it is intrapreneurs that really are the business innovators of our large firms.
- The connected world is dependent on an interesting intersection of entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. Entrepreneurs to bring some of the technologies to market to enable the connected world. It is the intrapreneur however that will help product companies reinvent themselves using the technologies!
As labeled “intrapreneurs” for years while in our corporate settings, we are now looking to encourage other intrapreneurs to continue to drive ideation and transformation inside of their corporate homes, and are doing our best to bring services that will support them.
So as you finish reading this over a cup of coffee on a Sunday afternoon, or in your seat while flying to your next corporate meeting, I hope you can pause for a moment and think about the journeys in your life. If you are like me, and remember fondly those paths that had few steps on them before you got there, then I hope you can plainly find some untouched ground to go blaze. It’s just too important to not give it a try.
Go slay some sacred cows!