Anyone Else Sick of the Word Intrapreneur?

Admittedly, I have a number of pet peeves, at least one of which I’ve already covered in this blog series, and today’s post is about another: the word “intrapreneur.”

A quick Google search provides the following definitions for me:

en·tre·pre·neur
ˌäntrəprəˈnər/
noun
a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.

in·tra·pre·neur
ˌintrəprəˈnər/
noun
a manager within a company who promotes innovative product development and marketing.

Colloquially, I hear the term “intrepreneur” used all of the time to describe people “with an entrepreneurial nature” working inside a larger company. It’s used a lot to describe millennials, record numbers of whom say they would like to start a business despite not actually doing so and, therefore, earning millennials the prize of least entrepreneurial generation if we measure that by the percentage of people who actually start businesses as opposed to those who just dream of doing so.

Here’s the thing though, entrepreneurship is about the risk, so if you’re not taking the risk, should you really get to use some cutesy phrase to give yourself credit for being entrepreneurial when you’re missing the key factor – the willingness to actually go out there and give it a go?

I feel like calling yourself an “intrapreneur” is like giving yourself a participation trophy. Shouldn’t seeking innovative ways to improve productivity, maximize efficiency, and maximize profitability just be called doing your job?

“Who cares?” you might say, and I get it. There are definitely bigger problems in the world than the use of the term. The word “intrapreneur” irks me though, because it’s symptomatic of our culture of “entrepreneurship theater,” rewarding talk about entrepreneurship without the actual hard work of real company building, and that culture needs to change for entrepreneurship to truly have the impact that most of us hope it will as an economic equalizer.

That’s just my opinion though. What do you think?

2 Replies to “Anyone Else Sick of the Word Intrapreneur?”

    1. I don’t think we’re actually in disagreement here, for the most part. I’m not arguing that the work that people referred to as intrapreneurs isn’t valuable, often vitally so, to organizations; I just argue that the term is silly because someone really good at job X, say product development, should just be known as a top notch, kick ass product developer. S/he doesn’t need another name to identify that s/he is great at her job. We should just say s/he is great at her job.

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