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Innovation Leadership And Intrapreneurship | Part 3


Companies are typically at different stages in the innovation lifecycle. Industries are disrupted at a different pace and extent. Is your organization slipping from its position as a leader or starting to emerge at the head of the pack? Whatever the situation, the need to innovate does not subside.

In last month’s DesignThinker's LiveWire webinar it was evident that there are different types of intrapreneurs. Those that deal with things head-on and those that might adopt a more subtle approach.

This post looks at this dynamic using two possible profiles of intrapreneurs.


Intrapreneurs naturally shift things, but when doing so, could adopt a different styles. We will use two “extreme” personas here to illustrate possible approaches in two very different contexts. While both personas could be successful given the situation at hand, their styles and rate at which they bring about change might be different.

THE INNOVATION DRIVERis someone who overtly drives innovation, who believes in their convictions and has a clear vision for the future. Usually they achieve success through power based relations and have a strong track record in shifting things. This persona would go head to head with other actors to rock them off their position if challenged or ignored. This persona does not stick around to embed their vision. They rely on strategic partners to put systems in place for their concepts to materialize.

THE INNOVATION SLEUTH is less overt, seeking weak or underserved areas to bring about positive change. Typically this persona is a masters in the art of asking powerful questions. They are good listeners who find allies and ensure values are aligned before making change. They operate under the radar to bring concepts to life. Ownership is shifted to the rightful actors using an incremental approach.

The situation dictates the approach: For instance, where the organization may have unsuccessfully shifted to emerging market needs, the Innovation Driver may be very effective. When there is strong resistance to change, the Innovation Sleuth may be more adept at bringing about lasting change.

Innovation leadership implication: While no magic formula exists and adaption is necessary along the way, different situations may call for different styles of leadership. Innovators should adjust to the context and prevailing dynamic of competing resources...


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