Valuing the Intrapreneur

AJ Tibando, CEO of SoJo, was my favourite guest of the week simply because I felt like I related most to her. Each person in the learning environment had a different background, whether that be educational or professional or both, and brought with them a different set of questions and passions relating to social innovation.

AJ spoke to me.

She was young, educated, and had what I considered to be a dream job at Queen’s Park. She was valued, had a lot of responsibility, and even seemed to be making a difference. But she left it all.

How could she do that? And why did she do that?

I’ve already discussed culture at length in a different post, but it relates to AJ’s journey as well. The culture at Queen’s Park was not necessarily one of change; or, at least not one willing to change at the speed AJ needed. She needed a different culture to help her achieve the sort of success that she envisaged for herself.

The biggest takeaway for me was her candid discussion about taking risk, and about knowing yourself and what you want to do. Easier said than done, but it is through risk that you can often truly get to know yourself, what you are capable of, and what your passion is. It is by supporting yourself with a good team, shared values and perspectives, and a good sense of humour that you figure this out.

But I still struggle with this idea of risk. What if you’re just not a risk taker?

Towards the end of the week I finally found the answer to this nagging question. I am now confident that you can make change and you can make a difference even if you are risk averse.

Enter the INTRAPRENEUR!

According to Cahill (2010), intrapreneurship refers to “employee initiatives in organizations to undertake something new without being asked to do so” (p. 263). It is about making change from the inside. It is about realizing your personal motivation and your potential to innovate within a system that is already in place. It is about exploring different definitions of change, and discovering what change means to you.

Am I an Intrapreneur? I don’t know.

Am I an Entrepreneur? I don’t know.

Do I have to be either to pursue social innovation? Definitely not!

It’s ok for these questions to remain unanswered. The important thing is that I am asking the questions. And, it is equally important that these questions are new and ever-evolving as I learn more about social innovation and the multitude of paths that one can take to be socially innovative.

Bibliography

(2012, October 1). League of Intrapreneurs. Changemakers. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3Lz61D2Z14; http://www.changemakers.com/intrapreneurs

Cahill, G. (2010). Primer on social innovation: A compendium of definitions developed by organizations around the world. The Philanthropist, 23(3), 252-279.

Stefanski, E. (2011, October 21). Making Systems Thinking Sexy. TEDx Talks. Podcast retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1fcYefOHN4

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