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Strategic Focus Fields - Preliminary > Intrapreneurs profile

Updated: Mar 31, 2021

Here are a few information when considering recruiting participants for a 6 weeks intrapreneurship residency program.

Illustration: building the dream team of intrapreneur (USA Olympics basketball 90's)

Deepnovation Deep Technologies Deeptech Innovation Corporate Strategy Intrapreneurship Intrapreneur

To keep the program manageable, an intrapreneurship program with 2-4 focus-areas would usually have 8 to 16 participants. Each focus areas having 3-4 participants. There are different ways to recruit those participants:

  • an existing pool of talent in your company

  • C level executives to pick candidates among their teams

  • running an internal recruitment campaign with support from HR

  • a rewarding scheme for talents with only few seats available

An important success factor to the program is to measure participants intrinsic motivation. Such an intrapreneurship program is very rich in term of development and exposure to senior management. For early career colleagues, it is definitively a career accelerator and an opportunity to learn new working practices. According to the World Economic Forum, the top 3 skills to master are:

  • innovation thinking

  • active learning

  • complex problem solving

Also, by encouraging participation in the residency program, managers support employees career development and retention. And, to avoid disrupting usual business, the recruitment process should give enough notice time, at least 2 or 3 months before the start. Finally, other than salary, all the costs should be covered by the program and a progress report should be shared every month between participants and their managers.

Onboarding participants to form a team

In term of participants profile, motivation is a key factor, sometime more important than some expertise. You should not look at expert in each of the following areas but people combining at least two of them, more at T-shape profile type:

  • strong technical lead with solid grounding for feasibility

  • business lead with market and customer need awareness

  • project management skills with capability to keep the team aligned with timeline

  • social skills to keep the team resilient in time of pressure and solve conflicts

Leveraging collective intelligence is at the core of the program. The success usually rely on the first days when the team meet and build relationship and inner trust. With participants diversity in term of gender, education, nationalities, you are facing a true multicultural challenge. One way to understand what multiculture looks like is to watch Disney song in 25 different languages (video)... sorry you'll get music in your head all day.

Putting a strong emphasis on the early days requires to invest the necessary time and effort for the team building. In particular, participants should learn each others background, strengths and motivations levers and how they behave in different context (leisure, pressure..). The unique combination of participants inner assets makes the uniqueness of the program.

Innovation mindset

When starting, participants start dealing with highly uncertain environment, undefined tasks and ill-defined problems. To add to that, their emotional journey is totally different from normal job: dedicating extra hard work, facing rejection or failure, building resilience to overcome obstacles. Such an intrapreneurship program requires a dedicated mindset - The “innovator DNA” well described by Clayton Christensen with 5 attributes:

  1. Associating is the ability to connect concepts that are distant from different areas. This can be about linking two problems or seeing analogy of questions coming from two different fields. Think about a pharmacy laboratory arrangement and ask how a cooking chef have already solved it for their kitchen. This also relate to the “medici effect” which looks at the intersection of unrelated concepts

  2. Questioning the status quo, asking the evident underlying assumptions, being sometime provocative would help to challenge the common knowledge. Start with asking 'the 5 Whys' to understand the roots of a situation. Use questions to open the different angles to the topic, imagine opposite, embrace constraints

  3. Observing like they do in ethnography. People have so many bias and already made answers to explain behaviors, usually based on limited user experience. Instead, observing behaviors of users can reveal some new social phenomena or specific organization patterns that are roots to bigger problems

  4. Experimenting is about building interactive experience with users. Sometime to understand how they would react in solving their problems. Also, it would be interesting to see how they response to unfamiliar stimuli and what unexpected insight this would generate

  5. Networking bring additional value while involving individuals with a diversity of profiles. This would give a range of perspectives with sometime some more breakthroughs ones. The innovator networking consists in extending their knowledge domains from science and business disciplines but also from culture

Become a topic referent

One the particularity of such a program is the steep learning curve on new science and recent enabling technologies. It requires participants to build new knowledge. Working with experts accelerate process in sharing the depth expertise on the science and technology they already accumulated. In particular the value chain and the different players involved including academia and research institutes, emerging start-ups and competitors. Working with facilitators also helps with their multidisciplinary view across different science and technology domains and their focus on solution applications help them to accelerate learn growth and connect distant concepts. In this regard, while experts usually have a PhD level completed with several years of experience in industry R&D, facilitators usually mix a technology and business education and accumulated experiences in product development, consulting, sales and technology licensing.

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