“Corporate entrepreneurship and innovation will be the next big thing for the next 10 years” – Steve Blank

If Steve Blank says something, innovation-minded folks listen. In a recent interview, he said:

“Here’s a big idea that everybody’s been missing because it just happened. It’s the fact that large companies are now turning to startup companies and startup ideas. Really, the whole lean startup thing is being adopted by large corporations, and no business school has figured that out yet. Corporate entrepreneurship and innovation will be the next big thing for the next 10 years.”

It’s easy to say we knew this already, but hey – we organized the first Intrapreneurship Conference in 2011.

And we’ve noticed a rapidly growing interest in intrapreneurship ever since. Now building up the 4th edition of the conference, being held 10-12 December 2014 (did you secure your ticket yet?), we’d like to present to you our speakers and partners in a series of quick articles. We’re proud to work together, and to create an impactful learning and networking experience for you. And you bet our speakers have something to say.

Today, we spoke with Jan Kennedy. Jan launched the Academy for Corporate Entrepreneurship, which helps corporates to generate, validate and launch disruptive ideas, by turning employees into corporate entrepreneurs. The Academy for Corporate Entrepreneurship is an official partner for our event.


Our first question to Jan was, what is it that you do at the AfCE?

Essentially, we help organizations to Get-Keep-Grow their innovation mojo!

We offer a range of (customisable) hands-on programs that are designed to support employees at different stages of the innovation process by leveraging high calibre entrepreneurship and innovation experts as mentors. The programs align with each other to offer a lean and systematic approach to disruptive innovation, allowing individuals and teams to launch better ideas faster with a higher chance of success.

Jan, Why is a growing number of companies embracing intrapreneurship?

I see two key reasons. The first is out of necessity to innovate because the company is under increasing threat of disruption through changing technology trends and rising startups which are on the rise. The second reason is to prevent “entrepreneurial minded” employees from leaving and to rather utilise their skills for intrapreneurial endeavors for which it is a much slower process to hire this kind of talent as they are not familiar with the organization.


What are 3 key elements of a successful approach to implementing intrapreneurship?

There are hundreds of variables, but to summarize, I would say that the 3 things you want to get right are

1) Get everyone to appreciate the status quo that the threat of disruption is real, even though it’s hard to see coming (like a cancer that grows and you don’t know about it until it’s often too late)

2) Empower the right people to challenge the status quo by training them on how to generate, validate and launch innovative ideas as successful entrepreneurs do

3) implement the processes that allow you to do this again, in more departments and at a faster rate until you’ve infected your own culture to be innovative using intrapreneurship methods

What do companies struggle most with and how does your Academy help?

We think established organizations struggle most with the entrepreneurial mindset and skills. Innovating is seen as risky because you are entering the unknown, but that’s how most of these established companies came into being in the first place. It’s just that 99 plus percent of employees in large organisations were not part of the founding team or have ever experimented with creating new ventures at their own risk.

This does not mean however they can not learn how to do it. Entrepreneurship is teachable. The AfCE offers training programs that turn employees into corporate entrepreneurs so that they possess more of the mindset and skills they need to effectively drive new innovative ventures for the organisation.

Does it work for tech companies only?

Definitely not. The way I see it is that the tech industry has been an early adopter of many techniques out of necessity because the industry changes so fast. Tech players understand they can be disrupted in the blink of an eye. We must understand that technology is a driver of change and therefore many startups are tech related, but in terms of applying intrapreneurship methodologies, this can be just as relevant for a charity or government organisation wishing to “enter into the unknown”.

A startup and to a large degree “disruptive innovation” is all about exploration, not execution, so whenever an organisation is “exploring” they can apply most of these methodologies, regardless of being in tech or not.

What is your vision on intrapreneurship for the next 5-10 years?

5137477_origI predict that Intrapreneurship will become a management discipline with key people acting as interim intrapreneurs to drive innovative projects forward. Perhaps more importantly, I think the skill sets under intrapreneurship will be sought after by HR – just how ethnic diversity is important today I think different entrepreneurial skills will be critical in the future also. These skills will go on your CV.

Furthermore, being able to show evidence of having failed at entrepreneurship endeavors and what you learned from them may become a key interview question – if you are still doing interviews and not just relying on an entrepreneurship personality test score.

What do you want to get out of the Intrapreneurship Conference 2014?

As a partner I want to help raise awareness for the topic and the importance in applying it. Hopefully people will see that the Academy for Corporate Entrepreneurship is starting on a path to help many organisations with applying intrapreneurship so that they can become more innovative, keeping their best talent and disrupting rather than becoming disrupted!



C4-1With innovation being the #1 priority for all companies, what is YOUR recipe for success?

At the Intrapreneurship Conference 2014 you discover best practices for implementing and leveraging Intrapreneurship within your organization. If you haven’t yet, click here to secure your ticket today!