David Grayson: The Qualities of a Successful Intrapreneur

As part of the series of short insights from faculty members of the Intrapreneur Lab, we spoke to Professor David Grayson CBE, Director of Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility, Cranfield School of Management.


The Intrapreneur Lab: 'What is an Intrapreneur'?


David: Well I think social intrapreneurs are people working inside large businesses who develop ideas, which are profitable for their companies…it may be new products, it may be new services or new ways of doing business…but which also address environmental and social issues as well.


Very often they are going against the grain of the business as it is today…so it’s business unusual rather than business as usual. Very often they are challenging the existing business models and social intrapreneurism is that phenomenon of people inside large organizations creating business benefits and societal value simultaneously.


TIL: ‘What are the qualities of a successful intrapreneur?’


David: I think one of the crucial things for social intrapreneurs is that they have a mindset which recognises the big global challenges that we face and crucially that they understand, as the late, great Peter Drucker, said shortly before he died, ‘Every social issue, every global problem, is a business opportunity in disguise’.


The other critical thing about the mind-set of successful social intrapreneurs is that they are very comfortable with the genius of the ‘AND’ – namely, creating value for the business AND simultaneously creating value for the society…in terms of this idea that Michael Porter from Harvard talks about as ‘Shared Value’.


Editor's Note:

The Intrapreneur Lab is a 3-day + 3-month accelerator-programme that helps individuals inside large companies develop profitable innovations that create social impact - and develop ‘intrapreneurial aptitudes' in the process. 


The Lab is a collaboration between Leadership Laboratories, Accenture and Business Fights Poverty and is held in business schools across the world - Oxford in UK, Cornell in USA, Gordon Institute of Business in S. Africa. 


Companies involved include Barclays, Mars, Pearson, Philips, GSK, Novartis, Cemex, Coca-Cola, BASF and Interface – many of whom are seeing tangible results in the form of profitable, social innovations arising from within the company…led by committed and driven intrapreneurs.


The Johannesburg Lab is 17-19 November 2015.

For more information and to apply, please email Natasha Ncube.

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