Intrapreneurship: How to Innovate from Within

Friday, November 6, 2020 - 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm
Event Type: 

Innovation Leadership and Mindset Workshop
Facilitators: Ana Luz, Abby Luchsinger, and Priyankaa Krishnan

This session will explore the unobserved concepts of INTRApreneurship and EXTRApreneurship.

The everyday term ENTREpreneurship is largely attached to the leap from individual start-up drive to larger business venture, an outward commercial practice or the introduction of a viable product in a new market. Intrapreneurship inverts this arch of movement of extending an outcome out, and focuses on the internal undertaking of individuals finding a place of action from within a company, collective or corporate.

Intrapreneurship operates from a social capital perspective, it allows an[y] employee to act like a business entrepreneur but from within an organization, towards the organization, and in favor of the internal human growth of the organization. Therefore, intrapreneurs comfortably embody both the innovation mindset and the entrepreneurial spirit, and they are usually found in the midst of in-house change management initiatives or organizational innovation teams that encourage experimentation, tolerate failure, recognize points of success and share the wealth of best practices to move forward. Intrapreneurs know how to identify, pivot and support new ideas or concepts that build an inclusive culture of social innovation, civic engagement and community-ensembles beyond outreach and extension, in favor of within-reach and building bridges. Intrapreneurs operate between ambiguous endeavors of collaboration, cooperation, teaming, and connection.

On that note, intrapreneurs share the same game-changing profile with extrapreneurs – those who are also tasked with using the organization’s resources and goals, applying it externally to other organizations and then bringing it back internally in the form of experiential bridges to future connections. There are several types of intrapreneurs (creators, doers and implementers), and one step forward to advance on how to innovate from within is to try out different hats, experiment different creative techniques of disruption and diffusion, and co-create your own theory of change in the session with fellow intrapreneurs.

This interactive workshop will depart from these profiles, and explore design tools and speculative tactics on how to foster this intra- and extrapreneur mindset in others and individually. Question-asking, problem-loving, what if? and why not? are key points to draw innovation roadmaps that impact behavior and performance, and together push our collective charge on Innovate at Iowa State.


“Intrapreneurship has become a critical imperative for all organizations and a survival strategy for others. Organizations that have embraced Intrapreneurship have achieved higher financial returns, increased productivity, more innovation and higher levels of employee engagement.”

Intrapreneurs are the social entrepreneurs of the organizational world. They operate from within, thinking literally inside the box, and turning the box inside out. There are many reasons why Intrapreneurship is so timely in our current times. Research shows that there are a few big whys behind it: growth, innovation, leadership, change, community and engagement.

  • GROWTH: the goal of Intrapreneurship is to channel the entrepreneurial mindset and to create the infrastructure needed to support growth. It takes a systems’ view of growth and a transition design view of ecosystems, and it works as a framework for transformation. Understanding how to transition from how an organization is currently organized into a completely different way of working is vital. A lot of organizations can act in a very positive intrapreneurial way when they roll out systemic intrapreneurial practices across the whole organizational structure.
  • INNOVATION: innovation alone is not enough. Organizations need to set and foster the right context for innovation, the right people, the right processes and the right environment. Innovation and intrapreneurship are entwined, tied together to sustain innovation over time. A current organizational challenge is that people often know how to start the process [shake up phase], but know less about how to implement it [start-up phase] and scale it up [multiply phase]. Intrapreneurial innovation is a long journey to be solved by working together.
  • LEADERSHIP: as the key predictor of innovation success, leadership needs to update its own set of skills and capabilities to achieve a growth agenda. Intrapreneurial leaders require a new set of competencies and behaviors, to think and act differently, to dribble different motivations and aspirations, and to connect different work environments of inclusion and diversity.
  • CHANGE: as one of the most common and least understood management disciplines, change is the motor of innovation. Change initiatives from within are froth with risk-adverse cultures of resistance, yet organizations’ ability to grow depend largely on intrapreneurial leaders, the change agents who blaze new trails. Intrapreneurs enable organizations to effectively accelerate and manage change, and become the very change they wish to see, often driving change and modeling change so others can change as well.
  • COMMUNITY: when leaders engage and involve individuals on personal initiatives, the capacity for a change movement grows in the number of followers, ambassadors and innovation champions. This internal community of belonging operates in contrast to the egocentric business world, and in co-creation with a more steward form of creative leadership and distributed management. Community intrapreneurs are personally committed to organizational citizenship (employees) in order to engage others, and are the optimal balance to leadership forces in working together in a socially responsible way past the siloed insularity existent in many organizations.
  • ENGAGEMENT: disengaged employees and lost productivity are a key fulcrum on organizational wellbeing and growth mindset. Intrapreneurship provides a platform to engage employees in work that is challenging and meaningful, as social intrapreneurs are highly engaged in their work. Intrapreneurship helps employees stretch and grow while keeping them engaged; their passion and determination is affectively infectious and inspire others to get involved and try new things. As they grow inside the organization, the organization grows exponentially inside out.


Ana Luz is the incoming Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and an Associate Teaching Professor at the College of Design, Iowa State University. She has a double track in design&architecture and education sciences, and is certified in curriculum development and disruptive innovation. For the past 20+ years, she has trained and instructed K-12, undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate students, faculty, staff, corporate, industry and government human beings on: design thinking, problem-solving, insights’ systems, team dynamics and creative leadership, strategic change management. She does not sit still for long, yet pauses are her favorite tempo and place of be[com]ing.

Abigail Luchsinger is an interdisciplinary designer and a graduate in industrial design at Iowa State University. Her current academic and professional work is centered on certified personality psychology training, user-centric design strategies, attentive client communications, mentoring students in designerly ways, and building better social capital on teams. Rooted in a performing arts background, she is a strong advocate for the power of play, curious collaboration, authentic storytelling and empathetic exploration to inspire innovation. She drinks plenty of cold brew coffee, while investigating ensembles and improv techniques and performing with a dinner theater.

Priyankaa Krishnan is an industrial designer and a PhD candidate in Learning Technologies with a double major in Human-Computer Interaction and Educational Technology from Iowa State University. Her teaching and training work in higher education is towards public speaking, design thinking, teaching pedagogies, educational technology, visual communication, and public relations. She also works as a certified instructional designer for Engineering, LAS Online Learning and CELT at Iowa State University. Her laugh comes from within, and her energetic focus on absorbing the world leads to productive tactics and clear operations.