Ask Forgiveness not Permission

An intrapreneur is someone who acts like an entrepreneur whilst working within a large organisation. This basically means you get to leverage the corporate brand and resources, whilst taking on the risk and responsibility of launching a new product or service. It also means doing things without being told. I’m not sure if being put in charge of a new project counts, so there needs to be an element of flying under the radar.

I read an anecdote once about an intrapreneur who’s proudest moment was being given an award for ‘flagrant disregard for authority’ by his company…after having ignored their repeated requests to stop trying to launch an idea and going ahead and launching it anyway (it worked, which helped).

So how does this help the rest of us? Particularly those of us who want to keep our jobs? Perhaps this is where the lean startup can help. Rather than trying to filter off funding for your new venture, what if you could work within existing budgets, using existing resources (or close to), and in small enough chunks that you can react to change before the damage is done? This is what the lean startup is all about, here’s how it might work for an intrapreneur:

  1. Think through your idea and come up with the basic concept. Try filling out a lean canvas to keep you focused
  2. Develop clear hypotheses to validate your business model. These should help you identify (i) the problem to be solved, (ii) the people who want the problem solved, (iii) a first solution which solves the problem
  3. Develop your tests, and a minimum viable prototype. Run it through with some potential customers. Iterate your solution and your business model until you have something that works
  4. Keep at it

If you’re going to seek forgiveness instead of permission, going lean should go a long way to keeping your consumption of resources down whilst also giving you a validated business model. If you still want to seek permission, at least do it for a partly validated business model


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