The Intrapreneurship Conference: A Path to Subvert the Corporate Immune System?

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I recently attended the 2014 Intrapreneurship Conference, in Eindhoven, Holland.  The conference brought together a unique blend of change makers, some of them consultants who help firms find their way, and many of them either leading entrepreneurial efforts to create new products or services within existing businesses, others working to completely reinvent the businesses they work for.

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The two-day event was an intense affair.  While most conferences tend to deal with experts teaching tried-and-true methods, the focus of this group was on creating possibilities, gaining support for ideas, and providing cover against something I think of as the Corporate Immune System (the corporate body’s tendency to resist change).

As a business becomes successful, it starts to calcify. Click To Tweet

I think most people understand the need to keep their businesses in a state of constant evolution, but few of us do it well.  There’s good reason for this.  As a business becomes successful, it starts to calcify.  Codified artifacts like rules, policies, and systems, are the obvious part of this, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  The real sclerosis hides in plain sight in the form of an organization’s culture.  The unspoken rules. The shared stories. The accepted “truths.” Once those set in, you’re likely to start hearing tired tropes. “That won’t work here.” “We tried that once.” “It’s a good idea, but…”  When you find yourself running into that wall, you’ll need more than a good idea to effect change.  That’s where intrapreneurs come in.

When you find yourself running into that wall, you'll need more than a good idea to effect change. Click To Tweet

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The list of people who are able to drive meaningful change inside of established organizations is surely storied, but it’s also a list that is not long. That’s why the Intrapreneurship Conference is such a treat. They bring together these rare birds in a highly interactive environment, so you get the opportunity to learn from folks who are succeeding in challenging circumstances, while kicking around new ideas, or maybe refining some of your own. It was a great experience, which I’m looking forward to repeating in the near future. In looking back, the only thing that left me wanting was that I couldn’t possibly connect directly with all the interesting and insightful attendees.

If you’re responsible for driving a firm’s internal change (or you’re ready to step up to that mantle on your own), I’d highly recommend attending one of the 2015 events.  They’ll be holding a spring conference in Europe (Held in London this May), and their first U.S. event will be held this fall (site TBD).  I’ll be tracking both events, so stay tuned for further info on them, and I intend to go to at least one of them. Let’s be sure to connect if you make it there.