You—Yes, You!—Can Innovate Inside a Large Organization

John W Lewis's picture
Chat Date: 
Thu, Jun 16, 2016

This innochat will be hosted by Ken Gordon whose guest is Toby Bottorf, VP of Service and Experience Design, at Continuum. Here is their framing post.

Sometimes you find yourself the lone innovator in an organization. Maybe oftentimes. Truth is, an inflexible corporate culture can make innovation feel less like a creative activity and more like conducting foreign policy. Intrapreneurship can be challenging work, but there are ways to make your efforts more effective.

Toby Bottorf

Toby Bottorf, Continuum’s VP of Service and Experience Design, says there are ways to develop the innovation capability of a large organization and become an effective intrapreneur—and they begin by asking key questions about purpose.

“Intrapreneurial work absolutely depends on a driving sense of purpose,” says Bottorf. “Because it is not measured by conventional metrics, and challenges structures and processes, it is uphill work and will not succeed without clearly articulated support from leadership.”

For more background material on maintaining a sense of purpose while innovating in a large organization, read Carin Stimolo’s “Managing Stakeholders, Vanquishing Monsters.” “Trying to move ideas through large organizations can feel like a war of wills,” she writes. “It takes finesse, courage, and a whole lot of teamwork. Often, the process gets flooded by red tape, can send you in the totally wrong direction, or might even kill off a great concept. The process is just like the quests that demigods take on to save mankind. Well, maybe a little less dramatic.”


On Thursday June 16, at 12 noon ET, Bottorf (@tobybottorf) and his colleague Ken Gordon (@quickmuse) will lead #innochat in a wide-ranging conversation based on the following questions:

  1. Which organizations are stand-up examples of modeling intrapreneurial behaviors?
  2. How many different reasons are there for a big organization to kill an idea?
  3. What are the best arguments for trying something new and unproven?
  4. How should intrapreneurs leverage CX work (usually fixing what’s broken)—to learn about and build what’s new?
  5. What’s the right way to think about a roadmap for short to longer-term initiatives?
  6. What benefits do large companies offer intrapreneurs that start-ups cannot offer?


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