We continue to see more and more Chief Innovation Officers at the enterprise level. In this survey from 2015, researchers report that 43% of large companies have some sort of top innovation executive in place, which was up from 33% in 2011. But what does a Chief Innovation Officer do? Well, here are a few of their responsibilities. A Chief Innovation Officer:
Builds Purpose. This purpose comes from two different places: the overall organization’s mission, but also giving purpose to innovation activities. A Chief Innovation Officer can look to an organization for guidance and principles, but they also have to create meaning and excitement around change. What big problem will they solve together? How can innovation help employees build their skill sets and careers? After all, many people are afraid of change (particularly at such a rapid pace), but when it aligns to their sense of purpose, it gains a lot more meaning and pleasure as a continuous practice.
Align Needs to Resources. This means offering focus to innovation efforts. After all, constraints breed creativity and although totally blue sky ideation has its value – solving strategic challenges not only creates change that you can act on, but builds validity for an ideation program. We find that organizations that align their change efforts to a business need are more likely to implement ideas than their counterparts who can generate ideas, but struggle to act on them.
Fosters Connection. Between individuals. Between departments. But most importantly, between ideas. After all, “successful innovation is the combination of creative ideas and sustainably profitable business models.” So a Chief Innovation Officer needs to be an advocate for collaboration and scaling communication across an entire network of people.
Fosters Innovation Skill Building. After all, innovation is a great professional development skill to invest in. It helps individuals build their careers, but it helps organizations gain an edge that they wouldn’t have otherwise. According to experts, there are a balance of eight innovation skills you need to maintain to have a healthy and innovative company. How are you nurturing them and training them up across the entire employee network?
Obviously, organizations that don’t have a Chief Innovation Officer can still work on all of these initiatives, but we find that organizations that have assigned at least one champion to innovation efforts within a company are more likely to succeed, change, and maintain a competitive edge. What other responsibilities should a Chief Innovation Officer have?