Ethnography is a qualitative research approach that seeks to appreciate and describe, at a deep level, the culture and practices of a community or social system. It has traditionally been the domain of anthropologists – the social scientists traditionally associated with gathering data by actually living with isolated tribes in order to understand cultural practices from the inside out.

In reality there are more anthropologists working in offices than in remote, inaccessible regions of the world. 

In an organisational context, taking an ethnographic approach to problem-solving means placing the focus on understanding the world from the perspective of the customer, client or citizen, thus enabling the design of highly configured, customised and contextualised services and solutions.

Intrapreneurs can use their intimate knowledge of their workplace to solve problems in ways that are highly fit-for-purpose. 

They have a deep, intricate and nuanced knowledge of the business or organisation which gives them invaluable insight when identifying innovation opportunities and problems worth solving. Yet how often do organisations bring in consultants to help with that? The investment may be put to better use skilling up and resourcing intrapreneurs who then keep that knowledge, experience and expertise in-house to add to the corporate knowledge base.

Favouring consultant-driven change over intrapreneur-led change may even disempower and disengage employees who may get the impression that their leaders do not have confidence in their capabilities.[1] Add to that the fact that opportunities for new learning and experimenting are lost for intrapreneurial employees and there is a good case to be made for importing expertise selectively and, where possible, deploying and augmenting the skills already in-house.

It pays to look within your ranks first for people who are hungry to develop their skills and are prepared to invest the time and effort in acquiring them. 

Intrapreneurialism is a learned skill. Here are a couple of ways to acquire it.

Come along to my Creating Intrapreneurs public workshop in Brisbane on the 17th of September; leave with a deep and clear understanding of how to be an intrapreneur – all ready to progress a high-value intrapreneurial initiative in your workplace. Register here. 

Or email me: admin@drirenayashinshaw.com, about my in-house mentoring program called Human Helium designed to unleash the intrapreneurial talent in your organisation AND deliver exponential outcomes on a range of intrapreneurial initiatives. The results are always truly amazing!

Until next time, 

Dr. Irena.

[1] Singh, J. (2006). The rise and decline of organizations: Can ‘intrapreneurs’ play a saviour’s role?Vikalpa: The Journal for Decision Makers31(1), 123–127.

Dr. Irena Yashin-Shaw


E: irena@direnayashinshaw.com

Make a time to chat with Irena

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And we are LIVE!


I’m EXTREMELY excited to share that following on from the success of our sold out event in March 2019, we are hosting the 2nd Australian Intrapreneurs Summit in Brisbane, 2020.


“Enabling Intrapreneurialism through Technology & Diversity”

Check out the website and have a look at our fantastic lineup of speakers and panelists here.

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Dr. Sarah Pearson.

Chief Innovation Officer & Chief Scientist

Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade


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My book “INTRAPRENEUR” is available to order online.

“Dr. Irena Yashin-Shaw has cleverly captured the future of leadership in this ground-breaking book. She shows how creative and enterprising individuals – INTRAPRENEURS – are transforming their organisations from the inside out. A must read for leaders aspiring to unleash their inner entrepreneur to change the world.

– Allan Pease. Chairman of Pease International and author of 18 top ten bestsellers.

Order Intrapreneur

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