The Intrapreneurial Business Analyst

Business analysts have ‘street knowledge’ and deep insights into the main pain points in business. Who better then, to lead the charge in a multinational organisation that has distributed, virtual teams and foster a startup mentality?

Picture of Manoj Phatak

Manoj Phatak

A Call to Business Analysts

Would you like to be more involved in identifying opportunities for strategic change?

Would you relish the chance to exercise your natural leadership skills?

If so, a more intrapreneurial mindset (i.e. acting as an entrepreneur within your organisation) would be good for you and also for your organisation.

Intrapreneurship fosters a culture in which the multinational (or some part of it) remodels itself as a startup, capable of disrupting traditional processes and traditional customer expectations, to the benefit of both.

The business analyst occupies the essential and lucrative position of ‘inside entrepreneur’ in this culture, leading teams of customers, investors and suppliers (within or outside the organisation) to solve new or existing problems in innovative ways.

Business analysts must combine both technical and personal skills to minimise the threats posed by disruption and deliver benefits to the organisation, both financially and socially.

Why the BA?

Experienced business analysts have typically spent years developing competences in communication, forming crucial relationships with key stakeholders, identifying business needs and ultimately delivering solutions.

Business analysts have ‘street knowledge’ based on myriad conversations, workshops, customer shadowing and deep insights into the main pain points in business.

Who better then, to lead the charge in a multinational organisation that has distributed, virtual teams and foster a startup mentality that cuts through the traditional bureaucratic red-tape and drives the business unit to innovative and profitable new products and services?

Key competences

Key competences of an Intrapreneurial Business Analyst include:

  • Fostering an innovative mindset focussed on the bottom line rather than on implementation details
  • Quantifiable and controlled risk-taking
  • Communication, leadership and relationship-building
  • Measuring business benefits and delivering on them
  • The capability to ‘Show Me the Money’ i.e. knowing how to sell an idea to senior management

The role of the BA is transitioning from a humble ‘Taker of Requirements’ into a Leader, an Innovator and a Disruptor.

Christian Koch (in ‘Rise of the Intrapreneur’, Director Magazine) claims that intrapreneurs are the ‘secret weapon’ of the business world.

If businesses stand still for too long, they will find themselves being overtaken from the right, from the left and from above and below.

So, the real question is:- Can you afford NOT to innovate?

Benefits to the Organisation

Some of the benefits an organisation would receive would include:-

  • Being voted into the coveted ‘Best Place To Work’ awards and consistently winning top talent
  • Capturing young energy and new ideas with a sandboxed, lean approach to innovation with shoestring budgets
  • Forcing your BAs to think in terms of ROI, which can permeate into other more traditional projects in your organisation

Back to The Garage

How do we enable such a change in culture?

Take some lessons from Google X Labs, the LinkedIn [In]cubator, John Lewis JLabs, Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works programme, Intel, 3M, HP, and the list goes on.

All these companies have survived today thanks to innovation.

Here are some quotes from these companies:-

LinkedIn [In]cubator

“We see [in]cubator projects as small investments that have the potential to become big wins for the company. So far, we’ve approved five projects. One of our projects, an internal tool called go/book, has already shipped and is deployed across all 26 offices worldwide, and has completely changed how we book meetings at LinkedIn. The project was so successful, in fact, that we approved the go/book team for a second round of development.”

Google X Labs

“The self-driving car project started in 2009 to develop technology that could make our roads safer and improve mobility for everyone. In October 2015, the team completed the world’s first fully self-driving trip on public roads in a car without a steering wheel, pedals or test driver. The project graduated from X and is now Waymo, an independent Alphabet company”

John Lewis JLabs

“JLAB is recognised as one of the best and most popular retail accelerator programmes attracting hundreds of hopeful companies from around the world. We listen to feedback every year so we can continuously improve the JLAB experience for the startups involved, which is why we are delighted that Waitrose have decided to be part of JLAB. The knowledge and expertise Waitrose will inevitably add to the programme makes for a very exciting fourth year”


“We’ve finally understood that the key to “Sustainable Transformation” is in democratizing Innovation. Organizations must embrace and reward employees who explore, experiment and learn as part of their daily job, not just the “special project”. That’s how you drive continuous and holistic innovation, that’s how you make it a sustainable way of being.” – Kristin McClanahan Raza (Salesforce)

Key Tips to Ensure Success

  • Do not penalise failure
  • Foster out-of-the-box thinking
  • Use early customer validation
  • Force a shoestring budget to reduce risk and increase potential ROI

And finally, ask yourself this question:-

Can you name one market-leading organisation that has succeeded in the last decade by standing still?

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