INTRAPRENEURSHIP STORIES: MASTERCARD, KODAK, GORE, MACINTOSH…
FAMOUS INTRAPRENEURSHIP STORIES
The idea of Intrapreneurship stems back to Adam Smith of the 1700s known as the father of modern day economics. In our blog, we are sharing a few famous intrapreneurship stories.
He talked about the importance of entrepreneurial employees, in order to achieve and maintain competitive advantage – a goal that is becoming increasingly more difficult in today’s technology driven world. The term “Intrapreneurship” was coined in 1982 by Gifford Pinchot III (pictured) when he wrote the book “Intrapreneuring”. Famous examples of successful new products such as Post-It Notes at 3M, the Pontiac Fiero at GM and the personal computer at IBM were cited as the result of entrepreneurial endeavours from individuals within the organisation.
“Intrapreneurship is the act of behaving like an
entrepreneur, but within an established
organisation” – Gifford Pinchot III
Let’s take a look at some of the past achievements of famous Intrapreneurship stories…
In 1966 Michael Phillips, a non appreciated market research manager at the Bank of California was very good at using internal sponsors, politics and charm. The CEO was only interested in doing commercial business, so before proposing a new idea called “Master Charge”, Michael tested interest with partners and customers.
9 months after the initial idea, 200 customers were awaiting to receive the card, partners were onboard and other banks were ready to join. His CEO couldn’t say no to joining the other banks, which became MasterCard.
This is a great lesson in “asking for forgiveness rather than asking for permission”!
The Kodak Moment
In 1975 a Kodak researcher named Steve Sasson presented a new technology to his management. It was digital photography and the makings of the first ever digital camera.
The management’s reaction was “that’s cute – but don’t tell anyone about it”.
This was the beginning of Kodak’s demise, one of the best intrapreneurship stories of all time.
The popular programming language “Java” was born and had 6000 developers one year later.
In the early 1980’s Steve Jobs formed a separate division of 20 engineers who could play “without adult supervision”. They produced the infamous Macintosh and ultimately began to compete with Apple mainstay products, causing CEO Scully to fire Jobs, which he later admitted was a mistake.
The “Skunk Works” group at Lockheed Martin in 1943 allowed America to build its first fighter jet within 143 days (the P-80). Kelly Johnson, the young eccentric engineer, used 10-25% of the usual number of people for the project and worked from a rented circus tent as there was no other space available. One of the classic intrapreneurship stories.