Personal Branding for Intrapreneurs

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“There was a very cautious man 

Who never laughed or played. 
He never risked, he never tried; 
He never sang or prayed.

And when he one day passed away 

His insurance was denied. 
For since he never lived, 
They claimed he never died.”


Sometime back I had attended the lecture by the Head-HR of DuPont India. The topic of the lecture was ‘Process Orientation’ and he spoke about how his company lost crores of rupees in a financial deal recently. The point emphasized by him was that since the employee had followed the laid down process, he was not fired because the loss was due to market fluctuations and hence the employee who had followed the process could not be held responsible.


The important point is to give employees certain freedom to take risks with defined boundaries and laid down processes. If the organization wants to produce and quickly launch innovative products, it must empower employees and encourage employees to become intrapreneurs. If we take a look at some of the most innovative and successful organizations like 3M, Google and so on, the credit for their huge successes largely goes to the culture of intrapreneurship.

The concept of intrapreneurship has been brought to India largely by MNCs and very few Indian companies (except in new sectors like IT) encourage intrapreneurship. If we take a look at Indian organizations, the smaller businesses may encourage some risk taking by employees in consultation with owners but as the organizations grow bigger, they become bureaucratic and risk taking is seldom rewarded. But this culture is changing and has to change due to competitive dynamics.

A culture of intrapreneurship is unavoidable to survive and employees have to be both trusted and empowered besides of course rewarded for taking risks. In fact one ex-boss of mine had remarked, “The best manager puts his job at risk because if he does not he cannot be the best.” But a healthy work environment is one where employee risks company money and not his job all the time.

There is an interesting saying in Punjabi language of India, Pehle saal chatti, duje saal hatti, teeje saal khatti. (Approximate translation: you experiment and spend during the first year of business; set up shop in the second, and earn profit only in the third year of business). The saying emphasizes on the fact that it takes time to plan, set up and specially break even and make profits in business. The top management has to keep this in mind that some risks will have immediate impact and some will have long term impact, sometimes the positive/negative impact may be felt after the concerned employee has resigned.

Branding oneself as an intrapreneur of course will help a manager to be on fast track in highly professional organizations. In fact many large organizations today give preference to children of parents who are entrepreneurs, respecting the spirit of enterprise in them. Consistently take risks to build your brand as an intrapreneur. But build your brand as a professional who is a calculated risk taker. If one takes wild risks, the probability of loss becomes high and the reputation/brand can also get destroyed. 

Remember the evergreen words of Leo F. Buscaglia, “The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live." 

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