Cristian Motca: “Intrapreneurs can be the transition architects to a new culture, to a new business model that, one way or another, will spread faster that we can think now, model that will make not solely the difference in the market, but it will be the engine of further development of companies.”
MD: What is the definition of intrapreneurship?
CM: The father of the term intrapreneur, at least from a technical point of view of the definition, was Gifford Pinchot in an article fall 1978, after attending Robert Schwartz’s School for Entrepreneurs and the term was meant to be a replacement for what was at that time the Intra-Corporate Entrepreneurship.
Leaving aside the main 8 points that defined the intrapreneur profile in his article http://www.intrapreneur.com/MainPages/History/IntraCorp.html, I would rather say, from a personal perspective, that an intrapreneur is the only one inside corporate environments that assumes the fact that becoming a renegade comes in the same package with finding solutions to tougher problems by breaking ground rules.
MD: How did you become an intrapreneur?
CM: Before being an intrapreneur I was (or at least that was my opinion at the moment) an entrepreneur, early in 1994 when together with two friends we set up a training company, in a market which was just opening the eyes on personal and professional development programs.
This experience helped me afterwards in the coming 10 years in ING, in setting up several departments from scratch, restructuring some others or developing innovative products on the market. Practically the entrepreneurial mindset was the trigger for defining my intrapreneurial profile:
– Before concluding that a problem is almost impossible to solve, try to learn as much as you can about it from the ones that tried to solve similar situations
– Think crazy about what could be done and experiment different options in practice, assume mistakes as a step forward, learn from it and use knowledge to innovate further on
– Assume involving only the right persons in your adventure (you choose your pioneers), bring them to the same level of excitement and develop the possible to do attitude
– Make a way of living from this (through proven results) and people will add it near to your name as a tag – that’s the way in which you’ll always be part of something challenging
And because life is an upward cycle, in 2007 I repositioned my entrepreneurial profile, this time by setting up with Polish associates the 1st mortgage shops network in Romania which became 2nd in market after 1 year. In parallel I had my own consulting company, in an attempt to share my practical experience with other companies from SME to corporations.
2011 was the year in which I decided to get again in the intrapreneurial ecosystem, in a new field, with new challenges ahead: setting up a financial services company for a telecom services provider, the 1st one of its type in Romania, 1st one for the telecom operator in its European business.
As a conclusion of all above, my first advice from a practical point of view (you can also consider that it describes me), for all those who consider themselves intrapreneurs or want to join the field: you’ll never be a true intrapreneur if you’ve never been an entrepreneur. I know that there are a lot of theories which state that intrapreneurship is the first step to entrepreneurship, but I have the right to my own opinion, you know? 🙂
MD: Are corporations open to accept intrapreneurial managers?
CM: In my early days in ING, I had the chance of a truly innovative corporation, for which the risk assuming individual, the decision maker, the innovator and experiential learner were part of its employees culture, were rewarded and stimulated on a constant basis, so I can say that I was not playing a hide and seek game, I was not seen as counterculture or antibody. But if I want to extrapolate to several other companies in the Romanian market for which I was doing consultancy or lately worked, things are somehow different. Main mistake done is that intrapreneurship program is not put in the right context and instead it is viewed as “another project” the organization is rolling out, alongside all the others. This is causing in most cases managing it in the wrong way.
There is a lot of emphasis – at a declarative level – on empowerment of employees, on initiatives and innovation and all sort of ‘nice to have’ things (not ‘must have’), but as long as intrapreneurs will not start to be seen as part of the company strategy and culture, as long as the attitude towards intrapreneurship will not change switching from ‘command and control’ to autonomy (in terms of freedom of choosing the team members, freedom to use the allocated budget as per their own decisions, freedom of setting up a new working model and most important the unconditional support of the organization in respect of reaching the assumed results), you’ll never get to an open, fluid and dynamic organization structure able to innovate and compete in an uncertain economic system, compared to the static, siloed one that exists at present.
MD: Can an intrapreneur add more value to an organization?
CM: As stated above, intrapreneurs can be the transition architects to a new culture, to a new business model that, one way or another, will spread faster that we can think now, model that will make not solely the difference in the market, but it will be the engine of further development of companies. Most probably classical hierarchies will also become obsolete; we are talking now about BYOD work concept, about flexible working time and practices, why not think further on at people bringing to work their own business ideas and their own teams? Thinking crazy? 🙂
Intrapreneurship is an added value concept in itself by definition, therefore the question is rhetorical.
MD: Is intrapreneurship something one can educate or are you ‘born with the gene’?
CM: Are leaders born or made? 🙂 Ok, you can say at some point in time that you can train / educate in the spirit of intrapreneurship as well as for other careers, meaning getting a set of principles which can help you get there. But it also needs ‘genes’ to be successful, cause not all of us are born insane or talented in a specific domain. Minds aren’t created equal, some people are smarter and more creative than others, which brings us to how we define not an intrapreneur, but a successful one. Second, you need to find that inner voice, that inner ‘gift’ and practice it over the time in a context that allows you to develop it. So, before becoming an intrapreneur / entrepreneur you need to define yourself as an innerpreneur and see if it fits your personality…
MD: Any closing word of advice for intrapreneurs or companies?
CM: For companies:
Bear in mind that intrapreneurship doesn’t mean business as usual with a glance of shine, but shifting company course through a change from within. It’s long term vision for such a change and it requires different skills, metrics, planning, communication, reporting, funding, etc. associated to it due to the fact that organizations are designed currently for exploitation, but not for exploration. So you need to be excited about unknown outcomes, accept to lose control, support and fund projects that can go against your current business, and challenge the purpose of your company, which is a stretch for most managers. If you think you can do that, do it consistently by incorporating intrapreneurial principles in you strategy and culture, if not, someone else in your market will do it for sure.
Featured pictures: Cristian Motca
Featured photographer & copyright: Geraldine Aresteanu @ Everybody is Beautiful