Chief Innovation Officers? We Don’t Need No Stinking…

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Boegh/Flickr

Lately, it’s become de rigueur for companies to create the position of Chief Innovation Officer. Which is great, because, you think, that they have finally realized that innovation is truly important and fully worthy of having a full-time body in the C-Suite totally dedicated to innovation.

So I ask you, what is the CEO doing? What is your CMO doing? What is the rest of your C-Suite doing, if not innovating? Is it not the core role of the CEO to be looking forward, to strategize, to innovate?

This is all part of the weird (if you ask me) differential that many companies have between what they call “innovation” and “strategy”. Is not strategy mapping out the future of your company? And is not strategy then innovation? If it’s not, then what is it? Maybe I have a strange definition of strategy, because as far as I know, its all about “setting goals, determining actions to achieve the goals, and mobilizing resources to execute the actions” (thanks Wikipedia). But how can you set those goals without attempting to not just see what’s next, but be a part of it? To disrupt yourself?

If your C-suite is not looking forward, if they are not looking to innovate, then if you ask me, they aren’t really doing their jobs are they? What is innovation but the future path of your company? If you don’t believe that, then you might want to read my previous post, 6 Reasons Why Your Company Is Not Innovating.

If everyone in your company is merely looking 6 months out, how can you possibly be aware of the trends and threats that are coming at you from all sorts of unexpected places? If your whole C-suite is heads down in delivery mode and can’t even look up for a second, then something is wrong.

If your Chief Innovation Officer is actually looking forward and providing that insight into those disruptive technologies, if they are truly part of the inner circle, and truly have the ear of the CEO, CFO and other important decision makers, then you are good. But if you’ve hired a Chief Innovation Officer and he/she is a second tier guy/gal who barely brushes past the rest of the C-suite on their way to the executive boardroom, then my guess is that you’ve pretty much given up on true innovation.

So hire that Chief Innovation Officer (I think I saw CINO as the acronym somewhere) but make sure that they have the tools, resources and a equal seat at the table in the executive boardroom, otherwise its all for show.

 

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