How to Pursue You Innovative Idea – 2 Contradictory Perspectives

Are you familiar with the words “Intrapreneur” or “Intrapreneurship”?

According to Wikipedia:

Intrapreneur = A person within a large corporation who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product through assertive risk-taking and innovation.

Intrapreneurship = The practice of a corporate management style that integrates risk-taking and innovation approaches, as well as the reward and motivational techniques, that are more traditionally thought of as being the province of entrepreneurship.

Gifford Pinchot  coined these terms in the eighties. He also came up with the “Intrapreneur’s Ten Commandments”:

  1. Come to work each day willing to be fired.
  2. Circumvent any orders aimed at stopping your dream.
  3. Do any job needed to make your project work, regardless of your job description.
  4. Find people to help you.
  5. Follow your intuition about the people you choose, and work only with the best.
  6. Work underground as long as you can–publicity triggers the corporate immune mechanism.
  7. Never bet on a race unless you are running in it.
  8. Remember it is easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.
  9. Be true to your goals, but realistic about the ways to achieve them.
  10. Honor your sponsors.

The ten points are all about risk taking, following your dream and getting it done. I especially like item no 6 about “corporate immune system” and item no (8) on permission vs. forgiveness.

Contrast this with the view published by John A Daly where the ten key points mentioned by him are:

  1. Simplicity Sells – Boil ideas into a concise construct: This is the problem, here’s the solution.
  2. Map Resources – Make sure the talent and tools exist, or attainable, before your pitch.
  3. Convey Do-Ability – Decision-makers must see the clear “how” behind the “what.”
  4. Make Evidence Understandable – Simplify data presentation, eliminate industry jargon.
  5. Validate Evidence – Inaccuracies and overstatements destroy credibility.
  6. Minimize Risk – Outline small, pilot versions to test the waters safely.
  7. Piggyback Existing Initiatives – Make your proposal seem evolutionary, not revolutionary.
  8. Connect the Dots – If others have something, company leaders tend to want it too.
  9. Fear Sells – But this technique requires the threat to be valid.
  10. Clear Political Hurdles – Don’t threaten turf of anyone who can stand in the way.

Can you find 2 set of recommendations so different from each other – both trying to solve the same problem?

  • Take risk vs. Minimize risk
  • Do it first vs. Get approval first
  • Ignore the system vs. Work within the system

… and so on.

Which advice should you follow? Is either one better than the other?

I guess it depends on your personality and probably the idea that you want to pursue.

However, a good question to ask at this stage is “Can we combine the two approaches?’ Even when you are following approach one, you can still be prepared with you story for approach two so when you have to come out of the underground and ask for forgiveness you are ready to nullify the corporate immune system.

4 Responses to “How to Pursue You Innovative Idea – 2 Contradictory Perspectives”
  1. Sandeep Dhar says:

    Now there is a term I haven’t heard in years!

    IMHO both approaches are fundamentally one and the same.

    The first is how you need to communicate with your Tech team. It has a lot of attitude that seems to inspires techies.

    The second is how you communicate to your management stakeholders. Minus the attitude, with the required humility. (Remember Bob Dylan – You Gotta Serve Somebody?)

    Here is a quick and dirty high level mapping

    Approach#1 – Commandment 1, 3 and 8 are pure adrenaline pumping attitude! While 7 defines an Intrapreneur.

    And the rest kind of map like so

    Approach#1 – Commandment 2 -> Approach#2 – Commandment 9 with a dash of 8

    Approach#1 – Commandment 4 and 5 -> Approach#2 – Commandment 2 and implicitly 3 as well.

    Approach#1 – Commandment 6 and 9-> Approach#2 – Commandment 5, 6 and 7.

    Approach#1 – Commandment 10 -> Approach#2 – Commandment 10

  2. he98nw says:

    Agree with above comment. When the culture of organization is obvious, one can easily select one over another. However, when the environment is not so obvious, it is a judgment call.
    Glass is half full, therefore, seeking supports to achieve the goal.
    Glass is half empty, therefore, avoiding possible undermining forces in order to achieve the goal.

  3. I believe it depends on the culture of the organization.

    Some companies are more data dependent ( aka Google) where you need to follow the John’s Daly recommendations.

    Some companies are more rigid in their decision making with decision flowing from top (as most companies are), in such companies Gifford’s recommendation will make sense.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] For example, recently, I read an article on “10 Ways to Sell an Idea” by Dennis McCafferty which I found to be quiet contrary to another article I had read few years back. I wanted to locate the article and it took me a long time to do it. In fact, it took me more time to locate the article than to write the post comparing the contrasting view – How to Pursue You Innovative Idea – 2 Contradictory Perspectives. […]

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