6 | Åsa Caap: Intrapreneurship and innovation

Åsa Caap is a Stockholm based entrepreneur, intrapreneur and author of the book Corporate Hacker, which is a survival guide for entrepreneurs in the corporate world. She is known for being “a warrior that get things done”, and she is a strong leader known for building healthy and productive teams. In this Better Monday podcast episode Milla interviews Åsa about intrapreneurship and happiness at work.

What does intrapreneurship mean?

Intrapreneurship means being an entrepreneur within a bigger organization or corporation. An intrapreneur is an entrepreneur running a start-up inside another company.

The biggest mistake is to take an intrapreneurial start-up and treat it like a smaller version of a corporation. It’s an evolution, a totally new game! For example, if you’ve never played football, you want to know HOW to play it before actually playing it. When running a start-up within another company, it’s all about discussing the rules and the structures. If these things are not clear to everyone, it’s never gonna work.

The book ‘Corporate Hacker’ gives hands-on tips for intrapreneurs to survive in the corporate world. For example, in a corporate world you reward people for doing what their job description says but for intrapreneurs this kind of rewarding system might even be counterproductive. Intrapreneurs job is to challenge the norms and find new solutions to old problems and thus, the corporate reward system feeds wrong behaviour when it comes to intrapreneurs.

Establishing a start-up within a corporation is hard!

Fun but hard.

The change of management caused challenges to Åsa and her team because every new manager always wanted to put their own agenda to the table. This forced Åsa to start all over again every time a new manager entered the game. Thus, Åsa’s tip is: “Start-up that is run under the umbrella of a corporation should not report in the line of managers. It’s better to have an external board.”

Any organization can utilize intrapreneurship but the organization needs to be dedicated to do all the changes needed to foster the entrepreneurial mindset.

Perks of having intrapreneurs:

  • Having more innovation within the company
  • A possibility to disrupt their own industry and not waiting for other companies to do so

However, the same challenges occur whether you acquire a new start-up or build it from the scratch.

Can intrapreneurship be taught or learned?

Yes, if you are an entrepreneurial soul, thinks Åsa. But again, organizations need to know what they have to fix and then create a structure around the start-up so that it (and the intrapreneurs) can succeed. Commitment and fighting spirit will take you to the finish line!

How to foster happiness at workplaces?

A good weekend makes a good Monday!

Transparency, inclusiveness and feeling of contributing will make people feel happier at work. Intrapreneurship gives people the opportunity to see the results of the hard work they have done. The pace of intrapreneurial work is fast and thus, people can immediately see the results. That is rewarding but also challenging, especially if you are not use to the direct ‘slap in the face’ kind of feedback. It’s frightening and rewarding at the same time.

A well-functioning team is everything!

“If you have no teamwork then there is no victory”, says Åsa and she knows what she’s talking about.

Åsa is known for building strong and successful teams. When she led a global team, 90% of her calls were on FaceTime. In order to keep in touch and stay informed, her team had a weekly “coffee machine” meetings with all its people. Everyone participated regardless of their country or continent and these weekly meetings were sacred and very important for the sake of the team’s success.

Åsa’s choice of a happiness act that makes company a better employer than others:

Hire for attitude train for skills.

This means recruiting the right people – not for their skills but for their personality traits. In Åsa’s opinion, corporations focus too much on the resume when they should focus on the personality. “You can train smart people to learn anything, but you can never change anyone’s personality.”

If you are struggling with the decision, think: “Could I picture myself inviting this person into my house and into my family?”

Learn more about intrapreneurship by checking out Åsa’s book Corporate Hacker.