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DBC - "The Intrapreneur" by Gib Bulloch

Druid’s Book Club

Quick Take: An interesting read, but less about intrapreneurship than I had hoped.

Longer Take:

I just finished reading “The Intrapreneur” by Gibb Bulloch.

This was an interesting read, but not what I was expecting.

I’m in the process of creating a course on intrapreneurship. The crux of the course will revolve around the idea that even as an employee you can think and act like an entrepreneur. I was hoping this book could be used as a resource in the class. The tagline of the book, “Confessions of a Corporate Insurgent”, led me to believe there would be a detailed description of how the author navigated the minefield of intrapreneurship in the corporate world. I was hoping I could use Gib Bulloch’s experiences as a case study of sorts. There was some of this, but not enough.

“The Intrapreneur” is really just a biography interspersed with Bulloch’s opinions on the failings of big business to be a force for good in the world. He does describe his journey acting as an entrepreneurial change agent within a huge business (Accenture), but much of the book also details his brief stint in a psychiatric hospital. This makes for interesting reading, but if you are hoping to learn a lot about intrapreneurship you will need to look elsewhere.

But my favourite takeaway from reading “The Intrapreneur” is how doing business and doing good need to go together. Too many businesses see these as separate parts of their business. This quote really spoke to me about how businesses can do better:

“…CSR departments were often run as separate units, dislocated from the nerve centre of the business. Figleaves of goodness plastered onto the rest of the business – much of which might be far from good. A bit like ‘here’s where we do business, and over here is the CSR department, where we do our good’. Ninety-nine percent of a company’s focus, investment and management attention would lie in the former, while a measly one percent or less of the proceeds channelled to the latter. I always believed that choosing between doing good business or doing good was a false dichotomy – they had to converge.

Some of My Favourite Quotes:

“By intrapreneurs, I’m talking about the misfits, the rebels and the oddballs who are hanging on to some crazy idea … but feel disempowered, disengaged or downright ignored by their business leadership. The aspiring intrapreneurs are dormant changemakers, lurking deep within all roles and functions of large corporations...”

“…you can’t aspire to change the system if you’re not willing to challenge the system…”

“…there’s a fine line between being a ‘changemaker’ and being branded a ‘troublemaker’, and intrapreneurs are no doubt a bit of both. That makes them something of an endangered species, certainly within the corporate world. It’s almost as if a set of antibodies are unleashed by the parent organization to try to attack anything that doesn’t look like it’s maximizing short-term profit in the next quester. I’ve often referred to this as the ‘corporate immune system’…”

“Too many people believe leadership comes as a result of a promotion … Not at all. Leadership is more of a mindset than a skillset. Leaders can emerge at all levels of an organization. Even low down. That’s basically the whole thrust of the intrapreneurship movement – to inspire people towards purpose-driven innovation inside their organization, regardless of their pay grade or whether they happen to be one of the lucky half dozen who sit within CSR. Intrapreneurs can be anyone, anywhere.”

“…the main reason for writing this book is to seek to inspire others to drive change … to rock the boat, to step away from the herd. … These are people who don’t change companies when they get frustrated in their jobs or crave more purpose from their careers. Instead, they stay put and change the companies they’re in. … No one ever said that it would be easy. Of course it’s risky for your career. Sure, you’ll get laughed at, Told you’re crazy. Overlooked for promotion. Yes, you might lose your job. …you may have to be prepared to appear crazy to others if you’re going to be successful … intrapreneurship is not for the faint-hearted, but in my experience the rewards far, far outweigh the risks…”

“Rollo May: ‘The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it is conformity.’”

Druid’s Top Entrepreneurship Lesson: With sufficient drive and determination anyone can change “the system”.


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