Successful Innovation Program Highlights the Value of Intrapreneurship

Intrapreneurs are people who are dedicated to their employer yet know how to apply basic principles of entrepreneurship within their roles at work. 

Group of colleagues discussing a project.
Sometimes your best “entrepreneurial” ideas come from people inside your organization.

There may have been a time when people with characteristics of intrapreneurs were discouraged or outright forbidden to innovate, even within their areas of responsibility. That, however, is changing. Not only are businesses embracing innovation more wholeheartedly, but the innovation team is also fast becoming a standard feature of many workplaces. 

Starting in 2016, the Queensland Police Service (QPS) in Australia built an Innovation Unit, and saying that it has been successful is an understatement. Encouragement of intrapreneurship, along with a system that allowed people with ideas to speak outside the chain of command, yielded impressive results. 

More than 600 innovative ideas were proposed, and re-prioritization of initiatives helped the QPS better address the needs of police and the communities they serve. You can read about this innovation team initiative in Intrapreneur Magazine (pp. 29-31).

What Holds People Back from Sharing Their Ideas?

It’s not uncommon for people to enter the workforce or go into a new job with plenty of great ideas. Those ideas often deflate or evaporate as the reality of day-to-day business becomes apparent. Maybe the company culture isn’t supportive of new ideas, or maybe the hierarchy of leadership is too rigid to allow ideas to reach the right people. 

In fact, if people aren’t explicitly encouraged to share their ideas, and if companies don’t ever act on great ideas, it doesn’t take long for people to stop sharing them. It takes a system that actively encourages intrapreneurship and puts the best ideas into practice to keep the ideas coming. Many companies don’t bother implementing such systems, however.

Even Risk-Averse Organizations Can Innovate at Scale

Two colleagues discussing a document.
Even companies that stick with tradition or are bound by heavy industry regulation can learn to innovate at scale.

The experiences of the QPS show that even government agencies (which are usually among the most risk-averse) can innovate at scale and enjoy the rewards. Many industries are heavily regulated, and some businesses develop their own internal risk aversion. However, the reality of doing business in today’s world highlights the need for innovation.

With innovation management software systems, any organization can create innovation teams and solicit great ideas. They can then evaluate and prioritize ideas based on their unique needs, budgets, and constraints – innovating despite strict regulation or highly traditional corporate culture.

Start Small, Then Scale Up 

Kelly McAuliffe, part of the original innovation team at QPS starting in 2016, advises that the best way to mitigate risk is to demonstrate value. A good way to demonstrate value with an innovation team is to start small, prototype, and test. Once an innovative concept is developed to where its added value becomes apparent, it can be scaled up and implemented more widely.

Innovation management systems, like IdeaScale, are designed to help businesses and other organizations create a process for gathering, evaluating, prioritizing, prototyping, and placing into service innovative ideas. Those ideas may come from R&D, from ad hoc innovation teams, or even from partnerships with outside organizations. Because it is systematic and methodical, great ideas don’t get lost in the shuffle and are more likely to become an everyday reality.

If you would like to learn more about the experience of the QPS and their drive for innovation, you can download the free case study. If you’re ready to put innovation to work at your organization, let us show you how to start an IdeaScale community.

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