Project Management

Presentation Recap: Session 305: Project Innovation: Narrowing the Gap Between a Corporate and Startup Environment

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By: Dimitrios Zaires
Lieutenant, Logistics & Project Officer
Hellenic Army

I recently presented at the PMI Virtual Experience Series: 9 June.  This was a great event with featured speakers, exhibits and networking activities.

My presentation, “Project Innovation: Narrowing the Gap Between a Corporate and Startup Environment,” focused on outlining the tradeoffs between a corporate and a startup project environment by giving insights from a complex supply chain design - redesign a corporate project versus a logistics project in an early stage B2B2C startup. We compared these two relative mindsets - the corporate, which is related to fixed culture and the startup, which relates to a growing culture that suggests that every failure is a chance to learn. Growth experimentation and resistance to failure are the key outcomes to assist project managers in leading with agility in these challenging times by being customer-driven and focused on the market problem and addressing business acumen, not just being scope-driven. The use of proof of concept via business models, and not business plans, transforms project managers to project leaders to communicate deliverables to the stakeholders in the right manner. And we all need to support young leaders to address disruptions via the route of project innovation.

My presentation highlights were focused on:

  • How young people embrace project management to become leaders today!
  • Two case supply chain projects for corporate & start-up environments
  • The difference between business models & business plans
  • The concept of intrapreneurship & entrepreneurship in project management
  • The fixed & growth mindset and how they are applied in organizations
  • How do you select the mindset you belong!
  • The main takeaways of understanding frugality and resilience to failure!
  • C-Suite leaders should care to allow innovation & support young PMs
  • The action plan for project innovation via hypothesis – proof of concept & scale up.

During my presentation, I received a lot of great questions that we didn’t get a chance to cover, and my responses are below.

Question 1: What is the difference between an intrapreneur and an entrepreneur?

To understand the difference between an intrapreneur versus an entrepreneur I would strongly advise to begin from the definition of:  What is intrapreneurship? According to the MIT Sloan School of Management & Meredith Somers: Intrapreneurship is acting like an entrepreneur within an established company. It’s about creating a new business or venture within an organization. And thus, entrepreneurs can exist in corporations, and corporations need them more and more nowadays.

Startups and corporations aren’t mutually exclusive as Rachel Kerrigan says. You may find qualities of startups in large companies and vice versa. In fact, many corporations have started creating teams dedicated to innovation to respond more quickly to change. The question is: Are you interested in entrepreneurial work?

The principles of entrepreneurship aren’t strictly related to starting your own business. Instead, they focus on being able to identify business opportunities, explore the risks and rewards of pursuing a venture, and develop a thorough business strategy.

In this context, an intrapreneur is acting like an entrepreneur within an established organization!

Question 2: Please kindly explain better how to make a business model or better still propose a useful resource.

In terms of tools or techniques to design a business model to achieve this result or at least be guided through this concept there is a huge amount. But I would strongly suggest you start from the business model canvas to get familiarized and then work backwards. The Business Model Canvas is a strategic management template used for developing new business models and documenting existing ones. It is a visual representation of a business model, highlighting all key strategic factors including but not limited to customers, value propositions, channels, customer relationships, key resources, key activities, key partnerships, and cost structure.

If you feel you are in the idea stage of the project, I suggest the lean model canvas. This is a 1-page template that helps you deconstruct your idea into its key assumptions. And search for business models. It will assist your effort to hypothesize, and it will assist you to decodify the problem you are solving and the value it has for your end user.

Question 3: How important is TRUST among the 'Entrepreneur' and the 'Intrapreneur'?

This is one of the most important factors, indicating beyond trust that you are having a strong team, sometimes experienced or people that have been facing the problem in the industry, or even a team that has worked in the past together delivering results. In this context, a strong team building trust among your business and in general your stakeholders can reduce the risks of an investment in a startup or the risk of allowing a project manager inside an organization to propose a charter and kick off the project.

It is indicative that even if the problem in the market is not 100% defined or you don’t have the total addressable market (via a concise hypothesis), even more if you do not exceed in the business model excellence or the business optimization operational excellence, a trusted team with a strong vision can surpass the money from investors. This is because you are trusting the people to which you give the money and thus their vision to make their story come true!


I had a great time presenting, and the full presentation will be on demand through 31 January 2023.  Visit PMI Virtual Experience Series 2022 for more details.

Posted by Dimitrios Zaires on: June 16, 2022 09:16 AM | Permalink

Comments (1)

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The tricky part with allowing other's vision to come to fruition is when the new vision is quite distinct from the company's overall vision. Don't be surprised if the new vision doesn't have to separate from the company in order to follow its path. In a worst case scenario, they could become a new competitor.

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