Rise Performance Group

Managing Change with Social Intrapreneurs


By Sally Ann Moyer

The business world is starting to sound more like science fiction with the rise of a new hybrid species: the social intrapreneur. You can rest assured that the science fiction stops there and these hybrids are nothing to fear. Social intrapreneurs move easily between the corporate and social worlds and add a global emphasis to their work.

The Social Intrapreneur Report describes this type of person as “someone who is capable of making a positive impact to their business and for the world.” Their role within corporations separates them from independently working social entrepreneurs. However, your company’s intrapreneurs can serve as points of access to help social entrepreneurs.

Social intrapreneurs are teaching companies about managing change from within and using that for global benefit. So what do you need to know about social intrapreneurs?

1. They have an insider-outsider mindset.

They know that they’re different from traditional employees. Many would be happy working independently as social entrepreneurs. However, they find themselves working within your organization and choose to remain there. According to a recent Fast Company article, they are people who “bring their commitment to society into their day jobs.” Their outsider perspective with the goal of directing global change finds power when attached to an established company. Their position on the inside helps them combine the best of both worlds.

2. They might be your most ambitious employees.

Just because an employee is seeking global change doesn’t mean they aren’t also personally ambitious. The difference is in how and where they target their ambition. They will put the company and society first, not themselves. Social intrapreneurs are more ambitious for social change than personal wealth and advancement. They recognize that they can use their own success for a global good. Success drives them to seek further advancement as they see how their influence can help the world. Social intrapreneurs could be your most ambitious employees because they follow both internal and external motivational factors.

3. They are social change revolutionaries.

Social intrapreneurs are all about aligning the “corporate of the future” with the society of the future. They want corporations to work for the good of society and develop harmony between the two. What makes social intrapreneurs more difficult to understand than traditional employees is that they don’t follow any specific script. One intrapreneur told Fast Company Co-Exist, “You can’t project manage a cultural revolution.” Their revolutionary nature might make some companies afraid, but remember their goal is always in seeking societal good. Use assessments like the Customer Service Profile™ to ensure that intrapreneurs are sending a consistent company message, but otherwise allow them freer reign as you see how their ideas benefit your company.

4. They seek innovative solutions.

Their revolutionary nature means they will use their creative skills to find new solutions for old problems. Social intrapreneurs are fighting a battle of old versus new because the old shortcuts no longer work for them. They will see right past company mottos that “provide a shortcut to decision-making that acts to push away all existential doubt” like Nike’s “Just Do It” or Google’s “Don’t be Evil.” Instead, social intrapreneurs will seek to change their company through specific strategies. They want to bring about system-level change and disrupt the status quo.

5. They successfully navigate both worlds.

Most important to understanding social intrapreneurs is keeping their hybrid nature in mind. They “arrive at work fully embodied and committed to infecting their companies with purposefulness.” Unlike social entrepreneurs, they also have your company’s goals at heart alongside society’s good. They know how to apply “entrepreneurial skills within business to create social and environmental impact.” Social intrapreneurs will be your strongest asset in managing change because they are always thinking on a larger scale. Their long term vision means they still seek the good of the company as they work to advance society.

Do you have any social intrapreneurs at your company?

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