Rebel Intrapreneur
Rebel Intrapreneur
085 Howard Head: When the floor needed sweeping, I swept it

085 Howard Head: When the floor needed sweeping, I swept it

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In episode 77, I go on a little rant about how being tactical gets a bad rap. Tactical work is often devalued in favor of this so-called, high value strategic thinking. Of course strategy is critical, but it’s only 5% of the work. The other 95% is executing the tactical actions necessary to make the strategy happen. 

As I continue to read Intrapreneuring: Why You Don't Have to Leave the Corporation to Become an Entrepreneur (affiliate link, if you’d like to support my work) by Gifford Pinchot, I came across this passage with the heading, Pursuing the Pleasures of Mundane Work, which makes the point about tactical work beautifully:

From the book section, Pursuing the Pleasures of Mundane Work:

[Intrapreneurs] don’t have standards about what sorts of work are beneath them. They do the mundane work that is part of every new project. As entrepreneur Howard Head of Head Ski Company described the start up situation, “When the floor needed sweeping, I swept it. When the sales force needs a rousing speech, I gave it. I did whatever needed to be done.”  

To only a slightly lesser degree, that is the lot of the intrapreneur. 

Instead of thinking up ways to make their [intrapreneurs] services to the company into profit centers, and then wishing it could happen, intrapreneurs print brochures and solicit new customers. 

This tendency to prefer hands-on work gets the job done and helps intrapreneurs stay quite literally in touch with all aspects of their intraprise.

When an entrepreneur starts their venture they do everything because they have to. As their venture grows, they must hire and delegate, but their tendency is still to “sweep the floor.” 

Most traditional managers and individual contributors stick to their job description with the attitude, “That’s not my job.” 

But Intrapreneurs are floor sweepers, though to a “lesser degree” than entrepreneurs. Intrapreneurs roll up their sleeves and do the work. 

Traditional managers and individual contributors consider sweeping the floor low value work and won’t do it. 

Low value work? 

If no one sweeps the floor or takes out the trash, after a few days, employees don’t want to come to work and customers no longer want to come into the store. Even if I am exaggerating, the point is still true. 

And you think sweeping the floor is low value work? 

Sweeping the floor is a metaphor for work that needs doing.  

I personally hate it (a pet peeve of mine) when people express the attitude that something isn’t their job.

My attitude is, “I’ll do it.” 

Rebel intrapreneurs don’t judge levels of work. We do whatever work is necessary to further the mission. 

Today’s episode is brought to you by Figma. Two important tools of the Rebel Intrapreneur are the business model canvas and the value proposition canvas. Figma has templates for both, so you can design your innovation projects fast. I used the value proposition canvas template to design the listener profile and value map for this show. Try Figma for free

Bill Cushard Rebel Intrapreneur

More about Bill:

Bill Cushard on Linkedin

Bill Cushard on Twitter

Rebel Intrapreneur podcast website

Bill’s book: The Art of Agile Marketing: A Practical Roadmap for Implementing Kanban and Scrum in Jira and Confluence 

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Rebel Intrapreneur
Rebel Intrapreneur
Rebel Intrapreneur is a podcast about a new category of high performing employee. Rebel intrapreneurs further the mission of an organization while simultaneous challenging the system from within. Founders and entrepreneurs are thirsty to find people who believe in their mission as much as they do, and pursue that mission relentlessly. Rebel Intrapreneur is hosted by Bill Cushard, who has reported directly to founder/CEOs four times in his career, which makes him an ideal guide on your intrapreneurial journey.