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October 23, 1986 - Image 43

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1986-10-23
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0 The American Express ai Life Planner

0

0 The American Expreo eal Life Planner

that his little slips of paper had slipped out
of place, and he would have to mark his
place all over again.
"During a particularly boring sermon, I
realized Ineeded something that would stick
without ruining the'book," he says, and his
thoughts quickly turned to a light adhesive
already developed in his company's research
lab by one of his colleagues, samples of
which had been widely circulated within the
companyin the visionary hope that someone
like Art Fry would find a use for it.
Technical employees at the St. Paul,
Minnesota-based 3M are allowed 15 per-
cent of their time to work on their own
projects-the company's pioneering inven-
tion and use of Scotch" tape was tinkered
into innovation under a similar system-so
on the following Monday Fry crafted a hand-
made sample. "I put the adhesive where it
would touch the book and didn't put any on
the part that would stick out," he says. "Then
I cut them to the size of a book mark, which
was what they were originally planned for It
turned out, though, that the bigger pieces
left over were really good for making notes
on, and my supervisor and I began using
them that way"
But initial market research, -unfortunately
didn't offer much encouragement; most
people didn't see a need for a note paper
with a light, peelable adhesive; never before
had there been a reusable, stickum-backed
note pad, and potential customers were hard
pressed to figure out how or why they would
use such an item. So Fry distributed samples
within 3M, in much the same wayas the light
adhesive first found its way to his own desk;
he circulated samples in several different
formats-including labels, tape and the little
yellow pads-and kept careful records of
each employee's usage. What he found was
that once people got their hands on the
sticky little note pads, most of them couldn't
understand how they'd gotten along so long
without them.
A four-city market test which relied heavily
on advertising and in-store promotion,
proved unsuccessful, chiefly Fry speculates,
because 3M did not offer potential custom-
ers samples of the newproduct. Another trip
to the drawing board brought back a test-
market push in Boise, Idaho. Here the com-
pany made use of an extensive advertising
and promotional give-away campaign. The
results of this second market test were more
enthusiastic than Fry or 3M could have
reasonably hoped. A national launch of
Post-it" notes followed quick on the heels
of the Boise test, and Fry's germ of an idea
had grown to full maturity
Along the way Fry made use of 3M's vast
corporate resources, including an enormous
array of machinery to do the coating and
paper-handling of his test-product, and when
3M's production facilities proved occasion-
ally inadequate to the Post-it"' note task, he
would develop his own makeshift machinery
to get the job done. He not only had 3M's

corporate funds (and 15 percent of his own back on the development and the testing.
salaried time) at his disposal, but he also "It was too big a project for one man to do
had access to existing 3M technologymanu- in a lifetime of work. All the back-to-back
facturing facilities, pilot plants and marketing work, the adhesive, the manufacturing, the
channels. He remains convinced that the marketing...there was lots of test manufac-
project would never have gotten off the turing... it was just very complex. Post-its"'
ground without a forward-looking company seem very easy to the user; but they were
like 3M behind him. He has no doubt that actually very complex, and that's just the
developing Post-it"' notes under the corpo- kind of product 3M likes. And anyway; I'm
rate umbrella of 3M was the soundest thing the kind of person who likes to use other
he could have done with his revolutionary people's money to explore the fringes. Most
office product. people end up being their own worst enemy
"It's not the sort of thing that one person and let busy work get in the way of doing
can do by themselves," Fry admits, looking interesting things."

In such cases, the intrapreneur knows
that the financial rewards will be somewhat
thinner than the traditional entrepreneur
might enjoy, but there is a distinct trade-off
in the knowledge that the product, busi-
ness or service will be managed and
marketed by a capable, experienced and
"resource-full" company. And the pay-off is
often significantly greater than the salaries
and bonuses under traditional employer-
employee relationships.
The phrase intrapreneuring itself is
shorthand for "intracorporate entrepre-
neur:' and was coined by business con-
sultant and author Gifford Pinchot Ill, who
wrote the authoritative book on the subject,
Intrapreneuring: Why You Don't Have to
Leave the Corporation to Become an
Entrepreneur. He currently heads the
Connecticut-based International Institute
of Intrapreneurs. "There is a growing reali-
zation:' Pinchot says, "that the people who
make innovation happen in corporations
are very much like entrepreneurs.
"Intrapreneurs are the dreamers who do:'
Pinchot is fond of saying. "Intrapreneurs,
like entrepreneurs, are not necessarily
inventors of new products or services.Their
contribution is in taking new ideas or even
working prototypes and turning them into
profitable realities. At this point, they often
need proven managers to maintain and
develop the business while they go back to
building new ventures for others to manage."
But does intrapreneurship really work?
Are our big corporations flexible enough to
r adopt their sometimes rigid management
styles to the often freewheeling approach
many "skunkworks" operations need to
succeed? A recent New York Times article
pointed to the slow going of internal start-up
ventures at companies like Levi Strauss &
Company, Exxon, Xerox, and Eastman
Kodak as leading indicators that suggest
intrapreneurship doesn't always work as
well as it should. Levi Strauss & Company,
for example, abandoned its money-losing
Fashion portfolio sportswear line earlier this
year, when the intrapreneurs behind the
line could not produce significant sales and
lost the commitment of top management to
their foundering intraprise.
"Intrapreneurships crash for several
reasons:' reported an article in Venture
Magazine earlier this year, "one of which is
the fact that their leaders are not enough like
entrepreneurs" Venture estimates that two
out of every three corporate internal efforts
are abandoned after only a short time.
Not so, argues Pinchot. "Our studies
suggest that more and more companies,
big and small, are actively involved in
intrapreneurial ventures and producing
good things,' he asserts. "I mean, GTE is
doing a great job of moving in this direction,
AT&T, Westinghouse, Du Pont, General Mills.
Everywhere you look interesting things are
going on. I don't see any shortage of people
that are doing interesting things:"

Pinchot also gives high marks to com-
panies like 3M (see the "Case in Point" later
in this installment, which chronicles the
story behind that company's development
of its successful Post-it"' notes office
product), IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Gen-
eral Motors for their internal development
efforts, and it is not surprising that each of
these companies has been widely praised
for their management methods in general.
You should note that all successful intra-
prises are market-driven; in other words,
even the most delightfully inventive innova-
tion has no value to you or to your company
unless you can prove there is a viable and
measurable market in need of your new
product or service. Innovation, for innova-
tion's sake, is only one piece of the puzzle,
and it's up to the intrapreneur to make sure
all of the pieces fit.
We can't say whether intrapreneurship
works, as a rule, or whether it doesn't.
Nobody can. There are too many variables
involved to judge whether the success or
failure of an in-house venture has to do
with the concept of intrapreneuring itself,
or with the individuals involved in the
venture. But we can say that the theory of
intrapreneuring is built on a sound foun-
dation, and that there is no reason, on paper,
why such ventures shouldn't work.
There are many talented, creative and
independent people intimidated by the inter-
nal politics of most large companies,
worried that their talents will be under-
utilized, their creativity stifled, their inde-
pendence threatened, and that they will
become little else than cogs in the machine
of big business. Intrapreneuring is a way to
bring them into the fold, to help eliminate
their fears about working in a large com-
pany, so that they can benefit from a corpo-
ration's support, and the corporation can
benefit from their ideas. Many of you
probably hold ambitions of starting your
own businesses, of blazing new trails in the
spirit of free enterprise, but probably, too,
you are somewhat hesitant about going off
on your own. Intrapreneuring is a way to
ensure that people like you have what it
takes to succeed, that the corporate
umbilical cord will help to feed and nourish
new ventures, will seeto it you will never be
so under-staffed, under-funded and over-
worked that your ideas will never lead to
new opportunities.
Sometimes a great notion is not nearly
enough to open wide the windows of
opportunity; most times you'll need to cou-
ple that notion with the resources of others
if your ideas are ever to see the light of
day. The principles of intrapreneuring-
which suggest that big companies are
fostering and financing the creative ambi-
tions of their free-thinking employees at an
increasing rate-can help you turn your self-
starting drive and initiative to your personal
and professional advantage. Read on and
we'll explain.

WHAT INTRA-
PRENEURING
CAN MEAN
FOR YOU
ealistically, it is entirely possible that
the majority of graduating college
students would sooner sign on for
another four years of school, at their own
expense, than start anything resembling
their own businesses. It's possible that,
whether you're a doctor or alawyer, a writer
or a real estate developer, a butcher, baker
or candlestick maker, intrapreneuring could
have little impact on your working lives,
even less impact than the study of mo-
lecular physics would have, say, for an
investment banker.
Intrapreneuring, in the traditional sense,
might hold no practical application to your
professional future, which is why we've
developed our own definition and under-
standing of intrapreneuring-one that all of
you will be able to adapt to your own lives.
Intrapreneuring, according to The Ameri-
can Express Real Life Planner, is really
nothing more than a state of mind. Plain
and simple.
After all, what's in a name? To many, the
ideas behind the growing wave of intrapre-
neurship are nothing new, but rather a
dressing-up of time-honored business
practices in a new set of clothes. "Intra-
preneuring is a manufactured term:' com-
ments Richard Buzkirk, head of the Entre-
preneur Program at the University of
Southern California. "Most intrapreneuring
efforts are just new ventures. They are just
enterprises within big corporations:"
But whether the traditional idea of
intrapreneurship is something old or
something new, you can still borrow some
of the principles behind it and put them to
work for your career. Quickly. There are
stens you can take as soon as you aet your

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