Living Entrepreneurship Blog / Babson Entrepreneurs

Innovation: From Entrepreneurs to Intrapreneurs

Creativity comes naturally to some people but for others it’s a struggle. However, as with any other skill, creativity can be developed.

Here are some quick tips that may help with idea generation:

  • Think of solutions to immediate problems in your life. What type of product or service would help fix this problem?
  • Think about current startups. What problems do you see with these companies and/or how would you improve upon their product/features?
  • Keep a notebook or online log of your list of ideas.
    Often, you may think of a different solution to a problem you were trying to solve.
  • Draw it out! Seeing something visually can help stimulate more ideas.
  • Get feedback from multiple people for a view from another perspective.
  • Don’t immediately throw out ideas that seem silly. You may want to revisit and modify them later.

These strategies are helpful when you are trying to generate ideas for a new company you want to launch, but what about innovation within a company you already work for? From a 2013 survey Bain & Company conducted with 450 executives around the world, 75% of executives stated that innovation was one of the top priorities in their company – however, only 25% of them thought that their company was an effective innovator.1 Innovation within a company is more difficult than when it is just you and two business partners brainstorming ideas. Intrapreneurs, or those within their company responsible for innovation, have resources and tools at their disposal, but they have to deal with the obstacles of working within a larger company. One of these factors could be coming up with an innovation strategic plan that will satisfy management’s objectives while injecting a culture of innovation within the company so that all employees are on board.

Out of the companies ranked ‘most innovative’, Apple and Google have been consistently ranked at the top.2 Maximum innovative output occurs at these successful companies when “contributors believe that they have absolute freedom to contribute and pursue innovative ideas, while at the same time, top management believes that it remains in complete control”.3 As a startup, it is important from the beginning to establish this creative culture that can scale once the company grows.

Innovative Companies of 2014

Finally, the last piece of the puzzle is to determine the appropriate (measurable) goals that you want to achieve. Set realistic performance metrics and develop the framework necessary to implement them. Amazon, well-known for collecting and using analytics, views experimentation and inventiveness, along with its failures, as necessary steps for long-term success. CEO Jeff Bezos says, “Sometimes we measure things and see that in the short term they actually hurt sales, and we do it anyway.”4

Generating ideas, prototyping, and failing fast – but continually experimenting – are the keys to innovation!


For more reading on innovation, check out these books on the subject:

Ten Types of Innovation: The Discipline of Building Breakthroughs by Larry Keeley

Inside the Box: A Proven System of Creativity for Breakthrough Results by Drew Boyd & Jacob Goldberg

The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business by Clayton M. Christensen