What It Takes To Be A Successful Intrapreneur

Three corporate dynamos run with a big idea and bring in megaprofits for their companies

all of the Caribbean. During his tenure, the subsidiary more than doubled in overall headcount and revenues grew 55%. Taylor had an idea of how to regain the company’s position in the marketplace, but had anticipated early on that it would not be an easy sell.

“I knew I’d have to go up against some of the pioneers that had been at Microsoft for 20 years and that they might not all agree with me.” His plan would have to be supported by extensive research. To make his point, Taylor had to present to several levels within the organization. “I had multiple layers of selling to do,” he explains. “First I had to get Steve on board then I had to present my plan to the worldwide senior leaders.”

Taylor employed top research companies, such as Yankee Group and Security Innovation, to develop studies that looked at the total cost of ownership, reliability, security, performance, interoperability and overall partner success of Linux. He also knew that Linux customers had to be handled carefully. Many of them were very passionate about and loyal to the technology. He used all the information he gathered to develop a plan that included a description of the integrated Microsoft platform, how it compared with Linux, how it fared in research studies, the size of his team, and a strategy to win new business. The solution was the creation of a companywide infrastructure, team, and strategy to ensure that all of the company’s products met customer needs and growing trends more efficiently than competing alternatives.

“Even with the research data,” Taylor continues, “there were some heated debates because everybody believes they can do it better than you. Even after the meeting, Steve got several e-mails saying ‘We should not do this.’ But we pressed forward with the plan.” Taylor recalls that out of approximately 50 senior leaders, 15% to 20% were opposed to the idea and about 10% were on the fence. “Although I had Steve’s endorsement, I knew that if I failed it would be on me.”

Because of resistance from senior management, Taylor managed test runs before the official launch. It took six months to fully execute the plan. And then he was met with external opposition. Although he expected some resistance from senior leaders within Microsoft, he admits that he was surprised about the amount of resistance he got from the industry as a whole. “Our first client was 7-Eleven and the chief information officer said that people actually called him and threatened to never go into another 7-Eleven because the chain was not using Linux,” reveals Taylor. “Major researchers in the industry called me and said that they would never do another study for me again because of the industry backlash.” As a result, many employees on Taylor’s team became disheartened.

“We just had to ride it out and respond by doing more to inform the industry about the shortcomings of Linux and traveling the world with the research we had,” says Taylor. These challenges led

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