Ground breaking businesses are built on the ambition to create change, to do things better and to provide value. Entrepreneurs are hailed for their ability to disrupt industries in new and creative ways that have a positive impact on society. The same approach must be taken from within companies to keep organizations on top of their game: that’s what we call intrapreneurship.

We sat down with some of the speakers for the upcoming Intrapreneurship Conference 1-day Event in Montreal (June 16th) to discuss why intrapreneurship and why now, the crucial enablers for getting intrapreneurship right and what they will be sharing on stage during “Intrapreneurship – Building Better Business”.

Why is it the right time for any organization in any industry to start implementing intrapreneurship?

SerbanTeodoresco-intrapreneurshipSerban Teodorescu: There are few important reasons why an organization will want to start an intrapreneurship program.

Intrapreneurship is a way to to diversify growth strategies outside the classical M&A, portfolio extension or geographic expansion. Also, it can improve competitiveness especially in a fast-moving industry, or a market with many small and agile competitors.

Additionally, organizations turn to intrapreneurship to test new products and business models, outside the core business.

And lastly, it helps to attract the new generation of professional that are looking for more entrepreneurial working environments.

Edmond Mellina: Industries like print media, music, lodging and car travel have already felt the full brunt of digital disruption. With Google, iTune, Airbnb or Uber, these sectors have experienced massive disruption to long standing business models. Most incumbent players didn’t see it coming. They lost a lot. Some are gone.

However, most industries are still in the early stages of digital disruption. The traditional players still have an opportunity to adapt to the new world and come out of the process in a strong position. Innovation is obviously the key to success here – digital innovation of course, but other types of innovations too. Intrapreneurship is a mean to that end.

As for the print media, music, lodging and car travel sectors, well, more disruption is coming. The disrupters will eventually be disrupted. So all the players need to embrace intrapreneurship!

Marjorie Brans headshotMarjorie Brans: The complexity of the global economy, the increasing rapidity of innovation cycles, and the responses required mean that no single process, procedure, or structure can effectively address the challenges that organizations face ahead.

The workplace of the 21st century demands employees and change agents who are equally capable of operating autonomously and collaboratively.

Intrapreneurs are those precious change agents–capable of leveraging their intimate knowledge of their employers’ specific context while also capable of spotting emerging opportunities and threats on the horizon. But unlike entrepreneurial lone wolves tinkering in their proverbial garages, intrapreneurs mobilize their fellow employees and the assets of their organizations in novel, value creating ways.

Jean Marc Landry: Most companies and industries that were successful in the late twentieth century are being challenged by new entrants and new business models which deliver substantially better value and experiences to its customers.

The old way of building and launching products is not delivering the same returns as it used to during these “good old days”.

Consumers’ expectations are higher than ever and companies need to get closer to their consumers to better understand them and where opportunities exist to make small or fundamental adjustments to products and/or service design.

Amandine Robin: The world and businesses are changing at an unprecedent rapid pace and as such, intrapreneurship and empowering your employees is the one key way your organization can continue to stay ahead. By doing so, you can leverage the full strength and brainpower of your organization to challenge the status quo and take opportunities as soon as they arise.

ken-tencer-intrapreneurshipKen Tencer: With the pace of technological change growing ever faster, there has never been a more important time for businesses of all sizes to generate ideas and continuously explore opportunities for growth.

As a result, “More heads are better than one” has never been more apropos.  Continuous innovation needs a steady stream of ideas and members of your team are the link between your organization and the customer, where great innovation opportunities begin.

Nathalie Rajotte: The pace of innovation is accelerating. Over the past century, the advance enjoyed by an innovative business has declined from 33 years to only 3 years. Today, large organizations must take on the new technology shift by moving from a product approach to a customer approach. The gap between established businesses and their outside environment has never been so big, and that’s a challenge to their agility and culture. New business models are a key growth vector for organizations, representing one of the best ROIs, and intrapreneurs are by far organization’s best assets to achieve company renewal.

In your experience, what is the crucial enabler for intrapreneurship to deliver results?

Serban: There is not one, but many. Think of:

  • Clear goals and performance metrics for the Intrapreneurship project
  • Mix of internal and external team members
  • Realistic time frame
  • Strong executive support
  • Senior executive mentor / protector
  • Good initial benchmark studies

edmond-mellina-orchango-intrapreneurshipEdmond: Having an idea is just the first step of the innovation process. We cannot turn ideas – whether products, user experiences, strategic initiatives or complex ecosystems – into realities without acceptance by stakeholders. Therefore, I see corporate innovators’s ability to think and act like change leaders as the crucial enabler.

Intrapreneurs with an uncanny knack for generating buy-in across a wide spectrum of stakeholders get support for their project. They overcome the dreaded corporate inertia. They are able to operatinalize their idea or bring it to market. Only then does invention become innovation; and intrapreneurship deliver results.

Marjorie: While entrepreneurship and creative destruction are required to move an economy forward, innovation also needs to originate from within existing institutions. Many intrapreneurs will take it upon themselves to act without being asked to, but doing so means they fight a lonely and sometimes hostile battle. Why make life so difficult for these preciously valuable employees?

In our experience, even if one or two senior managers can give the intrapreneur a little political cover to pursue a “crazy idea”, the end result is much better and the intrapreneur is much less likely to give up and leave the workplace in search of a friendlier environment. The most enlightened workplaces, however, don’t just give intrapreneurs a little political cover. They seek them out, nurture them, and channel their intrapreneurs’ natural talents into the most productive forms of institutional and corporate innovation.

jean-marc-landry-intrapreneurshipJean Marc: Without a doubt – relationships.

You can have the best ideas and you can be the smartest person but PEOPLE is the common deminator that underpins any successful venture. Knowing who to talk do, when to talk to them and how to engage them is a skill in of itself.

Intrapreneurs must over-invest in creating strong, trusting relationships throughout their organizations. They must be humble, generous, appreciative and open to adjusting their plans in order to meet the needs of others. They must be willing to give more than they take. This takes time and effort but it will payoff in the long run.

Amandine: There are of course a few but the most important one is to start from the top: your executive team needs to truly buy-in and commit to give the freedom to the organization, within an agreed framework, to act on opportunities coming from many different areas of the company.

That means they need to be open to different ways of thinking, create an organization enabling fast decision-making and be willing to experiment: we live in the world of “beta versions”, better done first than perfect last.

Ken: Commitment and transparency are the crucial enablers for intrapreneurship to deliver results.

Companies that successfully embrace intrapreneurship exhibit three foundational qualities … progressive leadership, empowered teams and a process to market.

Nathalie: The breadth of an intrapreneur’s skills is as important to his or her success as the complexity of the role to be played. Having an entrepreneurial profile is fundamental, but other qualities are just as necessary to succeed in the framed context of a large organization. Guillaume Hervé describes it well in his book entitled “WINNING AT INTRAPRENEURSHIP,” when he talks about emotional intelligence, team spirit and the ability to manage change, which are more rarely-mentioned in entrepreneurship discussions. I’d add “unshakable perseverance,” as audacity and experience are key to intrepreneurial success as well.


What are you going to share on stage on June 16th?

Serban: My practical experience as a successful Intrapreneur in a large mutinational organization and as a teacher of Intrapreneurship at the MBA program at HEC Montreal.

Edmond: I will share “battle-tested”  tools, mindsets and techniques that I see as absolutely essential for intrapreneurs to think and act like change leaders. I originally developed these tools / techniques – and adopted the mindsets – through extensive trial and errors, while driving major change and innovation inside organizations.

Marjorie: At the School for Social Entrepreneurs, we make it our mission to identify people with sometimes nutty but beautiful dreams, and we help them pitch their ideas to the skeptics. In this workshop, we’ll share some of the most common pitching archetypes, share a few case study examples drawn the from intrapreneurial world, and offer participants an opportunity to practice pitching by marshaling their best arguments and our pitching tips.

Jean Marc: On June 16th, I will have been in my intrapreneur role for 13 months. I will take the opportunity to go back in time and share some insights on how I went from not knowing a thing about intrapreneurship to getting full approval to rollout a comprehensive innovation platform for Atlantic Lottery within a 3 month timeframe.

Amandine-Robin-intrapreneurAmandine: I will share how organizations can implement intrapreneurship with minimum budget and maximum impact through two award-winning best practices.

First, at the local/national level, I will show how you can create an intrapreneurship competition for idea generation inspired by the popular Dragon’s Den/Shark Tank TV shows. Second, at the international level, we will discover how you can leverage your millennials around the globe to break conventions in your business.

Ken: These are the three key learnings that I will share on stage.

Firstly, the link between delighted team members, delighted employees and market success. Secondly, the strength of intrapreneurial cultures in helping to attract, engage and retain top talent (even millennials!). And thirdly, the need to meld the process of innovation and the behaviours of culture to create an innovation culture – one that inspires people to seek out possibilities and embrace the new as part of their day to day work life.

nathalie-rajotte-intrapreneurshipNathalie: During a career in which I went from entrepreneur to intrapreneur, I committed to the gaming industry, which is defined by innovation and new technologies.  Today, after more than 25 years of participating in the organization’s evolution and commercial development, I have experienced several intrapreneurship stages and models adapted to the organization’s life cycle. Intrapreneurs are not just a game changers. They also challenge themselves to adapt and evolve.


Ticket prices for the Intrapreneurship Conference 1-day Event in Montreal go up June 1st.

It’s a full day of innovation training, with talks by experts like Guillaume Herve and Serban Teodorescu, intrapreneur case studies from Desjardins, National Bank and Bacardi and workshops on lean startup, change management and practical skills and tools (and more).

You’ll meet peers from brands like Pernod Ricard, BDC and Kruger. Moreover, by joining the event, you’ll become part of a global and rapidly growing community of corporate innovators.

We’ve just returned from our 3-day conference in Munich, welcoming 155+ corporate innovators from 23 countries, and they all loved it:

  • “Great content, great people”
  • “Diverse crowd. Impressive experts”
  • “What a mind blowing conference! I’m so full of new hacks and ideas and got inspired by all of you! Thanks for every single chat, every presentation, all the workshops…”

Intrapreneurship is not just about that one crazy guy anymore- it is now seen by senior leadeers as a viable strategy for innovation and growth, a vehicle for organizational and digital transformation, as well as a method for increasing employee engagement and supporting talent development.