To put a dent in the universe, start small, start here and start now

Since you're a member of Young Prozzz, we guess you dream big. Inspired by stories of the great leaders and innovators of our time, many of you are committed to have a real impact - to put a dent in the universe, as Steve Jobs said.

For having that impact, you no longer need to leave your job and launch your own startup. A rapidly growing number of organizations has identified innovation as a key priority – and they are desperate to keep millennials on board. As a result, they are actively supporting their entrepreneurial employees – intrapreneurs – to turn their ideas into profitable products and services.

That's great news for you, at least, if you feel like being an intrapreneur.

"Intrapreneurs are the dreamers who do. Those who take hands-on responsibility for creating innovation of any kind, within a business."
Gifford Pinchot

Intrapreneurs take the initiative to create new products and services for their organization, often bypassing the formal processes (and politics). For long time, the intrapreneur was seen as the lone rebel, the maverick, the only creative person in the room – but that's an outdated picture, and it was never true in the first place.

Nowadays, intrapreneurs aren't the lonely rebelling mavericks anymore. Most are part of teams that have the actual objective of disrupting the business-as-usual from within the company, often equipped with fancy job titles, fashionable tools and colourful office spaces.

Even if there's not a formal program for intrapreneurship at your organization, you can be intrapreneurial. In fact, if you really want to make that dent in the universe, you should.

The only way to get to the point of having a truly big impact is by starting small, here and now.

And the only thing you need to get started is the courage and desire to pursue an idea that you believe will benefit your company, clients or customers.

Since you're still relatively new to your organization, you bring a distinct and insightful perspective to your position and to the company (as beautifully expressed in this 2012 keynote address by award-winning author Neil Gaiman).

"Do the stuff that only you can do... The one thing you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision…"
Neil Gaiman


Not sure what that is (yet)? Maybe the next questions help.

What would you recommend to your CEO that would help the organization be more successful in a specific area?

What are the problems your team or organization is facing that are really just opportunities in disguise?

Start by looking at the issues and bottlenecks that affect productivity and cause headaches for other people – especially your boss. If you can solve her problems, she's far more likely to give you the go-ahead on your other ideas. Investigate how to save time, money, or make life easier in your department

If you are providing a service, there is always a way to improve it or to create a completely new or disruptive offering.

You must also look at the problems your customers or clients are experiencing. Can you solve them in a completely different way? A great way to come up with great ideas is by using the Four Lenses of Innovation, as explained by Ryan Gibson here:

  • Challenging Orthodoxies
    What if the dominant conventions in your field, market or industry are outdated, unnecessary or just plain wrong?
  • Harnessing Trends
    Where are the shifts and discontinuities that will, no wand in the future, provide the energy you need for a major leap forward?
  • Leveraging Resources
    How can you arrange existing skills and assets into new combinations that add up to more than the sum of their parts?
  • Understanding needs
    What are the unmet needs and frustrations that everyone else is simply ignoring?

If you take some time to reflect on the questions above, and maybe even do a small brainstorm with others, you will have some "Eureka" moments- but don't immediately send a powerpoint outlining the idea to your boss.

Good intrapreneurs explain the four "whys"—to everyone, so prepare your pitch carefully:

The four "whys" speak to the strategic rationale behind your venture. Think through these questions and recite your answers dutifully to stakeholders across the organization, from the lowliest analysts to C-Suite officers:

Why this? How does your new venture connect to customer needs, industry structure, technological advancements, growth strategies, or other market forces?

Why now? This is about timing, obviously. Is there a new gap in the market? A competitive shift? A first-mover advantage to be had? A new corporate strategy into which your idea plays

Why us? Why should your company be the one to act on your big idea? What competitive advantage or key assets does your company have that make your venture a good fit? How does your vision complement the existing business or strategy?

Why me? As you approach individuals and teams about your venture, make clear why their involvement is important, and make involvement rewarding for them. Most truly innovative ventures will start skunkworks style, loosely organized and cross-functional; but your collaborators already have full-time jobs that are their primary responsibilities. Make them care.


It's also worthwhile to discuss your ideas and suggestions with other people who know about different parts of the problem you want to solve. They can help you refine your ideas and develop an even better solution, but don't talk to people who could potentially immediately kill your idea.

When you finally sit down with your boss, if at least that's the best first step you can take after all the preparations, start by describing the nature of the problem you've identified in detail, and explain how your idea is going to solve it. Outline the benefits, and be honest about the risks.

Next, explain what you need to get started. Be specific. It's important to be up-front and transparent about what it's going to take to make your idea work, so if your concept is going to take six months and a team of 10 people to implement, say so. If your boss is a bit reluctant, just add that it's only about a prototype. Do whatever you can to just get an OK to get going.

Whatever dent you want to put out there, start small, start here and start now.

If you'd like to learn from experienced intrapreneurs and get advice from innovation thought leaders for transforming your idea into impact, join the special event "Intrapreneurship – Getting Up To Speed" on February 25th in Brussels.

You'll hear the real and raw stories from intrapreneurs at Accenture, BNP Paribas, Alcatel-Lucent and the Belgian Ministry of Transport, and you'll discover various methods and frameworks for hackathons, intrapreneurship and culture change. It's a unique gathering of 50 corporate innovators – joined by 5 Young Prozzz.

Also, if you are one of these five Young Prozzz to join the event, you'll get 1:1 support afterwards from one of the experts featured on stage, to implement your idea and kick-start change in your organization.

Sounds like a plan? We've got 5 tickets for Young Prozzz at 50% discount – register your ticket via this website by using promotion code "YoungProzzz" before January 31st:

After your registration we'll get back to you to hear more about your idea, in order to match you with the best expert.

CU in Brussels on February 25th, intrapreneurs!