Guy Kawasaki on the Art of Intrapreneurship

Many companies – not just news companies – need more intrapreneurship these days. That’s how Guy Kawasaki describes the quality that drives innovation at established companies in his new book, Reality Check. In it, he lists several ways to foster the spirit of intrapreneurship from inside a company. Here are my favorites:

1. Kill the cash cows: The purpose of cash cows is to “fund new calves.” Kawasaki, who started his career at Apple and points out that Apple killed the Apple II, then asks where the company would be today if it had protected it.

2. Reboot your brain: Take a page from George Costanza and “do everything the opposite,” since “everything you learn and do inside a big company is wrong for intrapreneuring.”

3. Stay under the radar: Repeating the age-old advice to “seek forgiveness, not permission,” Kawasaki recommends keeping a low profile on your new ideas until upper management asks for new ideas. Then try to make them think your ideas are really theirs.

At my last job with The News Tribune in Tacoma, we talked about new ideas as “pilot projects” which really helped lower the barrier for support from the higher-ups. A pilot project is seen as a trial that is temporary, and that made it easier to support.  

But don’t be fooled by Kawasaki, he is directly suggesting you rock the boat. “Trust me, you will get in trouble … This is because the higher you go in most organizations, the thinner the air, and the thinner the air the more difficult it is to support intelligent life.” 

But the rewards – both personal and professional – are worth the risk. As Wayne Gretzky famously said, “ You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.”

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One Response to “Guy Kawasaki on the Art of Intrapreneurship”

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