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Entrepreneur versus Intrapreneur

Updated on December 20, 2011
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In skill development, a teacher should expose the students to a real-life situation and watch their performance. This requires time and money with no sure-shot success. The alternate is case-study method. I have prepared a short case for finding out entrepreneurial (not intrapreneurial) abilities in students. (difference between the two has been explained later). They are confronted with a real-life intrapreneur to see their response.

A real-life story

An engineering company, at Faisalabad, had a reputation for being a "good place to work". Employees were not unionized. They were rewarded for any new ideas to improve quality or cost reduction. They were also provided opportunities to conduct their own research in a specially designed workshop.

Mr. Asghar was a supervisor in the Electric Motor Department. He was successful in making some improvement in the electric motor to make it energy saver. Before submitting his suggestion, he decided to try out his idea. He asked the workers to carry out the electric motor production according to the modified version. After testing about 50 motors and finding them satisfactory, he moved them to assembly area, where they would eventually become parts of automatic looms costing about Rs.1,000,000 each.

His idea was appreciated and found thoroughly sound. A sum of Rs.10,000 was recommended as suggestion award. In the meanwhile, an inspector had noticed a change in the design of motor which he did not like. He was also not on good terms with Asghar whom he termed as "swollen head" and recommended for his immediate dismissal.

As a chief executive, you have both the recommendations are at your table? Which one you would accept?

A faulty design can burn the motors as well as the entire machinery & equipment
A faulty design can burn the motors as well as the entire machinery & equipment | Source

The Answer

Relevant facts can be summarized as follows:

  • The company encouraged improvement and rewarded its employees for any useful ideas.
  • The employees were provided a specially designed workshop.
  • Mr. Asghar, a supervisor in the Electric Motor Department, was successful in improving the electric motor for energy savings.
  • Before submitting his suggestion, he decided to try out his idea and asked the workers to make the electric motor as per modified version.
  • After testing 50 motors and finding them satisfactory, he moved them to assembly area, where they would eventually become parts of automatic looms costing about Rs.1,000,000 each.
  • An inspector noticed the change and recommended for his immediate dismissal.

As is evident, the changes were made without any authority or approval. Hence, the inspector was right for dismissal of Mr. Asghar.

Disregarding this aspect for the time being, the change may improve the sale of automatic looms for the time being. (It would soon be copied by other manufacturers and the edge would be lost.) But in a worst case scenario, the change in design may lead to short-circuiting and potential destruction of looms valuing 50 x 1,000,000= 50 million. It must be remembered that Mr. Asghar was a supervisor and not a design engineer for electrical motors.

Since Mr. Ashgar has taken a dangerous step, he should immediately be removed from fabrication workshop.

However, keeping in view his innovative ability, he may be permanently posted in R&D lab and provided with some facilities or funds for continuing his research work.

Conclusion

Mr. Asghar is typical ‘intrapreneur’. The term refers to ‘an employee who tries to turn an idea into a better product through assertive risk-taking and innovation.’ Such a person is different from a researcher employed by the company in its R&D Division. An intrapreneur will bend any rule, scale any wall, flout any procedure and interfere in any process to try the idea.

They keep low profile until they succeed in their pursuits. Such a person believes that it is easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission. This is not on account of any desperation rather than motivation.

An intrapreneur differs from his boss, the entrepreneur.The intrapreneur has free access to assets of the company without incurring a risk or financial loss. While the owners (entrepreneurs), safeguard their systems, the other lot (the Intrapreneurs) finds the loophole, challenges the status quo and try to change it. In the process, they may lose their jobs but they come to work each day willing to be fired.

On the other hand, they think and behave like an owner. Traits like conviction, zeal and insight are common to both. They think alike seeking out opportunities for the benefit of the business.

Way back in 1943, Maslow noticed that “What a man can be, he must be.” This leads to realizing full potential or a move towards self-actualization. Many companies have taken advantage of this human nature and have created environment to promote innovation within their ranks. 3M gives certain freedom to its employees and provides them with some funds for development of their own projects. So are Intel , Google and Lockheed to name a few.

Steve Jobs of Apple says, “Design is the fundamental soul of a human-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service."

Looking back at the 'real-life-episode', one should not have any doubt that Mr. Asghar flouted the rule and exposed the company to a dangerous position. His removal from the operations would be justified. But at the same time, he has exhibited his burning desire for innovation in product design which would ultimately benefit the company. So he must not be thrown out rather kept contained within the laboratory-walls for a continued research.

But who knows when he would jump the walls and resume his passion. Only one safe-guard: Take R&D away from the factory and post gun-touting guards at its gate specifically briefed against the likely attempt of Mr. Asghar to enter the area for changing the design.

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    • asadayub profile image

      asadayub 6 years ago

      Respected Sir, this is a great example posted by you in this hub. Sir, as regards to the conclusion, i know that Mr. Asghar has not followed rules and had not documented thoroughly his idea, but as he has given such an innovative idea which is beneficial for the company, so he should have been given some reward for it and not directly been taken out of the given workplace. As regards to R & D, he would have been a successful person if he would have been given a chance to go in that department.

    • profile image

      shamim 6 years ago

      Sir this is the same case study which you have given in our final exams and I have almost written the same answer but I am sorry to submit you have not given me the good marks reasons , I don't . Sir let me let you so for I have cleared 15 subjects in my MBA program and I have secured 14 "A" grade except your paper . you have given me B plus despite my all hard work and effort. Now I read the same case study and answer , which relay match my answer. this whole made me more sad. Sir if you allow me to say you don't do as you say.

    • hafeezrm profile image
      Author

      hafeezrm 6 years ago from Pakistan

      Dear Assad Ayub,

      While concluding the study, it was recommended that Mr. Asghar be posted in R&D because of his innovative nature. It is not at all advisable to keep him in the assembling department as he is too aggressive.

      Thanks for your comments and continued interest in my articles.

    • hafeezrm profile image
      Author

      hafeezrm 6 years ago from Pakistan

      Dear Shamim,

      As you know, this question had only 9 marks out of 40 for final and 100 as total. Your answer was correct, you got full marks. There were some lapses in other answers. This is not the forum to discuss the same.

      As a teacher, I advise you not to make "A" Grade you obsession. There are other attributes which take one to glory. I pray for your success in life.

    • profile image

      Umer 6 years ago

      Dear Sir,

      Outrageous personalities – challenging the mediocrity, are these Intrapreneur traits?

      Dear Shamim,

      Grades don't do anything, its just a chunk. What actually matter is how you went through the subject, how much you grasp it and how much you actually implement it in your real life.

      Regards

      Umer

    • hafeezrm profile image
      Author

      hafeezrm 6 years ago from Pakistan

      Thanks Umer,

      I presume, you are Umer Javed (class mate of Khurrum Fayyaz). I am glad you perfectly understand meaning of efficiency and effectiveness.

      Thanks for your support

    • profile image

      M.YASEEN MAJEED 6 years ago

      EXCELLENT, CREATIVITY SHOULD BE ENCOURAGED BUT THEY MUST NOT VIOLATE THE RULES AND REGULATIONS, THERE MUST BE NO BAR ON CREATIVITY, BUT THERE SHOULD BE CHECK ON IMPLEMENTATION, FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE COMPANY, EMPLOYEES AND SOCIETY.

    • asadayub profile image

      asadayub 6 years ago

      Oh yes, i missed out the point sir about postal of Mr. Asghar to the R & D Department. Thanks a lot sir for clearing me. Looking forward to your upcoming hubs. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful piece of knowledge.

    • profile image

      umersm 6 years ago

      Dear Sir,

      I am Syed Muhammad Umer - Bahria

    • hafeezrm profile image
      Author

      hafeezrm 6 years ago from Pakistan

      Thanks Umer.

    • profile image

      Muhammad Shoaib Ikram 6 years ago

      Good Morning Sir,

      There was a statement in the case study, the inspector was also not on good terms with Asghar whom he termed as "swollen head". I think, the inspection officer must be neutral. More importantly he/she must be external or must not have any relationship with the concerned department or personnel.

    • hafeezrm profile image
      Author

      hafeezrm 6 years ago from Pakistan

      Dear Mohammad Shoaib Ikram,

      Phrases like "Inspector not being on good-terms" or "swollen head" are secondary. Real position would first be assessed from the Administrative and technical manuals or rule and regulation. If it was found that Mr. Asghar was within his domain or powers, only then secondary factors should be looked into and, if so, the inspector would be penalized.

      Thanks for reading the hub.

    • profile image

      kamran 6 years ago

      Dear Sir. The conclusion is correct. As per industrial project practices, the project manager and his/her team is not allowed to make any change in the product without the final approval of the higher authority (entrepreneur). During the execution phase of the project, the project manager and his/her team must follow the instructions contained in the benchmark / baseline record of the project that is prepared at the end of the planning phase. Such a person (as discussed in the case above) must be appointed to R&D dept and may be encouraged to develop more and more innovations and report his work to his/her manager. Project managers must keep an eye to such members in their team.

    • hafeezrm profile image
      Author

      hafeezrm 6 years ago from Pakistan

      Thanks Kamran.

    • Lyricallor profile image

      Lorna Lorraine 6 years ago from Croydon

      This is a very substantive hub. I learned something from it. Without applying critical thinking, one would believe that Mr. Asghar's punishment was unjust. The hub had some very good points to keep in mind that can be applied in any life situation.

    • Philipo profile image

      Philipo 6 years ago from Nigeria

      This is a very educative hub. I have really learnt something today. Thanks for sharing.

    • Neil Sperling profile image

      Neil Sperling 5 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

      If you want to pick the fruit you have to go out on a limb.... in this case he should have propped up the limb a bit before stepping out on it.... propping up his invention would have saved a broken limb.... that said...

      If you are afraid to fart - you will live with cramps..... quote ME Neil Sperling for that one LOL

    • hafeezrm profile image
      Author

      hafeezrm 5 years ago from Pakistan

      Thanks Lyricallor for your comments.

    • hafeezrm profile image
      Author

      hafeezrm 5 years ago from Pakistan

      Thanks Philipo for your comments.

    • hafeezrm profile image
      Author

      hafeezrm 5 years ago from Pakistan

      A good quote indeed Neil. I would certainly quote you when making a mention of it.

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 5 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      This was very interesting- I spent a long part of my career in government service- we made changes, sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn't, but no one got fired! I really enjoyed this hub and look forward to reading some other hubs. If your students want to get on life they have got to learn to live with what life brings and get on and do it, stop moaning like young teenagers!

    • hafeezrm profile image
      Author

      hafeezrm 5 years ago from Pakistan

      Authorized changes are acceptable even if they backfire.

      Thanks @Case1worker for your comments.

    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 5 years ago

      I really enjoyed this hub. The topic was different to begin with, and it was interactive in the sense of deciding how to handle the situation. I came to this hub from your comment on my hub about drawing the line, and this hub relates to where you draw the line! In this scenario though, I'm wondering where the first line supervisor is. The worker was allowed to implement his idea using company machinery and no supervisor was aware of this? He got a monetary reward that a supervisor would normally need to approve. The worker did what he was allowed to do, and was encouraged to do, and then got fired. Hmmm. Sounds like a case of "bad parenting" to me. As in my poem, when the "parent" (supervisor) doesn't set proper limits, the "child" (employee) has to learn the hard way (negative consequences) where to draw the line. In this way the parental role is protective, although it might seem confining to the child. A permissive parent, or absence of supervision can be harmful. Since the worker is an adult, I'm not sure how far we can take the analogy of parent/child and supervisor/worker, but it's a thought. Very intersting hub, indeed. Thanks hafeezrm.

    • hafeezrm profile image
      Author

      hafeezrm 5 years ago from Pakistan

      Thanks Kimh039 for your comments. The situation is different from what you have perceived. If the changes were made on an experimental model in the 'specially designed workshop', it would have been OK. But tempering the design in the production hall was something that no one would approve even if it was successful change. Fifty million worth of machinery was put at risk by the supervisor.

      Hope I made the point clear.

    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 5 years ago

      oh. I see. Yikes! It's easy to take risks with someone else's money!

    • umeraziz profile image

      umeraziz 5 years ago

      intrapreneur loyalty and commitment to the organizational goals is essential. in most cases employee's objectives override overall business objectives of the owners.

    • hafeezrm profile image
      Author

      hafeezrm 5 years ago from Pakistan

      Thanks Kimh039 and Mr. Umeraziz for your comments.

    • GoldenRod LM profile image

      John R Wilsdon 2 years ago from Superior, Arizona USA

      "However, keeping in view his innovative ability, he may be permanently posted in R&D lab and provided with some facilities or funds for continuing his research work."

      I like this quote, but how often in reality does it happen? Good thoughts here. Thank you.

    • prasadjain profile image

      Dr.S.P.PADMA PRASAD 2 years ago from Tumkur

      Very useful hub. You are quite sure about what to say in a hub and you plan to do it in an effective manner. All your hubs are educative, with clearly understandable vocabulary. Congrats.

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