Balancing intrapreneurship with returns

Look, I get it. I do.

We have mouths to feed, targets to reach, units to shift. In the corporate world, and especially in pharma, we have no flexibility or leeway to try something new, lest we use up precious resources (be it time, money or people).

I see it pretty often. You have a great idea, if only you had a bit of resource, you could start breeding that goose to lay the golden egg. Your boss is supportive to a degree, as long as you don’t lose focus on delivering on your numbers for the quarter, you can do it. Maybe you get 5% of your time to try.

But what can you do with a few hours a week, no budget and no resources? How can you show that your idea will reap greater rewards for the company if only a bit of investment? How can you show a return without any investment?

Start small

In my experience, the key to proving an idea for no investment is to essentially fudge a proof of concept. Here’s a checklist:

  • Define the smallest problem you need to solve, don’t try to solve world hunger
  • Put together two hypotheses, one overarching hypothesis and one specifically for your proof of concept
  • Focus on the process of how you are going to prove your hypothesis
  • Set realistic Key Performance Indicators based on real outcomes
  • Get buy-in from key stakeholders (internal or external)
  • Use what you have to hand to build your proof of concept (excel spreadsheets, google forms, your existing systems, paper and pen etc)
  • If it doesn’t work, try something else – failure gets you closer to success

I know it sounds easy for me to reel off a list like this, but I believe that if you can prove outcomes from a hypothesis with no investment, then you can inspire people to invest in your idea because they can see something tangible.

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