You find yourself in a large organization that does not seem to be designed with your needs in mind. You need work with purpose and the freedom to do it your way. You want work that aligns with your desire to make the world better and need the opportunity to make a significant contribution without having first to wait in line until you are 50. You need the freedom to choose projects to work on and to make decisions without frustrating delays waiting for permission.

I understand, but if your bosses were looking at this list they might say, “What have you been smoking? Real life isn’t like that. Grow up.”

Given how corporations work, you are asking a lot. You are asking management for freedom, protection from the bureaucracy and support. Giving you what you want costs them time, political capital, and hassle. Why should they go through all that for you and your idea?

The good news is this: For reasons that you might have seen in the Memo to the CEO, your employer desperately needs innovation.

Your employers need you to bring in information from the edge, out beyond where corporations are comfortable and figure out what it means in terms of what the corporation can do to remain relevant, to do what matters, to get the jump on what comes next. They need your courage to keep exploring. They need the right kind of crazy, wild, but sensing how to connect aspirations to the possible.

As an intrapreneur you are part of a revolutionary movement to reshape how humans work together in large groups.

We are just discovering how to make freedom work to produce an exquisite and dynamic order rather than chaos. This is the next step to produce a steep change in organizational effectiveness. Intrapreneurship and cooperation are two keys. You are part of this transition.

What guides humans out beyond where AI can go is not something that can be put in a slide deck or explained to a committee. Contrary to the operating beliefs of most corporate cultures, the most effective driver of innovation is heart coupled with mind in an intimate dance.

To get the exquisite human guidance system needed for rapid and cost effective innovation corporations have to trust their intrapreneurs to find the path through all the obstacles, mistakes and disappointments on the way to finding the pattern of success.

They must free employees to do what they can see needs to be done, not just to follow a script or standard operating procedure. And employees must rise to the challenge of being worthy of that trust.

Be a member of one of those liberated teams who are co-creating the future. Let this memo be an inspiration to help you to be effective in earning the right to innovate and in delivering the goods.

This memo is a call to greatly increasing your chances of getting to make your dreams happen. It will not be easy. There will be dark days when you barely have the will to go on. But you will also get to win some of the time and in those times to make a big difference.

This article is part of a series of memos to the different stakeholders of intrapreneurship. Stay tuned for the memo to middle managers, women intrapreneurs and older intrapreneurs.


Gifford Pinchot III is an American entrepreneur, author, inventor, and President of Pinchot & Company. Gifford is credited with inventing the concept of and word “intrapreneur” in a paper that he and his wife, Elizabeth Pinchot, wrote in 1978 titled Intra-Corporate Entrepreneurship. His first book, Intrapreneuring: Why You Don’t Have to Leave the Corporation to Become an Entrepreneur (1985) presented an expansion of the intrapreneurship concept.