The Rise of the Chief Innovation Officer

At Dinte Global Executive Search, we have noticed an increase in the demand for innovation expertise among C-level management.  As a result, we encounter a number of searches for a Chief Innovation Officer.  However, as the position is fairly new, the job description is very different across industries. We decided to take a closer look at the trends concerning this new position.

A decade ago, the definition of innovation was more simple: develop new products. Today, with such a competitive business environment and the consistent evolution of social media marketing, innovation has been completely redefined.  Today’s innovators are redesigning corporate culture, marketing business services on social media, and developing out-of-the-box advertisements for traditional products.  The recent social media boom has required organizations to start a conversation on websites previously used for consumer-related products.

Looking Forward

Bloomberg Businessweek believes the ever-evolving internet era has encouraged the need for innovation expertise in the board room. Bloomberg also believes organizations “have increasingly come to understand the commercial potential of sustainability innovations to reinvigorate mature industries and create entirely new ones.”  At Dinte, we see that the most successful industries are the ones that are willing to evolve and take chances.  The Chief Innovation Officers anticipate “the next big thing” and help the organization evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of the market.

Roy Rosin, Intuit’s first innovation leader, has another view on the Chief Innovation Officer. He spoke to Innovation Management a few months ago about the importance of the role but not for reasons one might think.  “Where I’ve seen innovation leaders play a critical role is in creating the environment in which great entrepreneurial work can blossom,” Rosin explains.  “They create broad awareness of early wins that gets organizations excited about new thinking and maintains that excitement while you’re waiting for material shareholder outcomes.  They’re also connectors, connecting innovators to others who can help them and their new ideas along the way.”

Chief Innovation Officers must not only come up with innovative ideas for the organization but create an environment that accepts innovative ideas.  Internally, employees must be free to challenge authority and suggest new ideas without fear of criticism. Externally, clients must be free to share ideas and feedback with top level management. Many companies are turning to social media and surveys to give clients a voice. The Chief Innovation Officer is the key to keeping this communication organized.

How is your company encouraging innovation?  How does your leadership team play a part in this process?