Does your Chief Innovation Officer Feel Hung Out to Dry?


Many innovation leaders are feeling “hung out to dry.”  It’s not for the lack of desire to innovate for sure.  The challenge is the current innovation processes themselves are not always conducive to actually innovating:

  • the effort hits balance sheet and potentially impacts profits
  • organizational teams fear the unknown and not being involved so often do not support the effort
  • some innovation leaders alienate team members by pushing to hard
  • and the priorities of the day simply just get in the way of doing new things.

Innovation is not a buzzword, it is not easy and it is not for the faint at heart.  In a hyper disruptive economy where technologies are impacting everything and changing at exponential speeds keeping pace with trends will take a concentrated effort with very little tolerance for complacency.  A few tips to consider that make the effort to innovate just a bit easier on the organization:

1. Build your innovation team’s sandbox and give them freedom to work within these constraints.  Innovation is not permission to roam freely and haphazardly. Under a defined set of guidelines with a defined budget and set of resources the innovation team can be quite effective.

2. Remove barriers to approvals under the above guidelines.  Allow the innovation team to introduce to departments and company leaders new ways of thinking by hosting events or information sessions to the teams. By doing so it begins to remove fear of the unknown and the mystery around the effort. Open communications and systems can be a very positive outcome.

3. Don’t be afraid to approach innovation from outside.  There are a number of ways to do this but you will need a strong leader inside to lead the way and manage the inside out and the outside in process.

4. Recognize that new innovations do not always fit nicely in the current company structure, processes and culture. Consider spinning it out and investing in new ventures as their own entities.

At the end of the day, you need strong people with a tenacity to pursue outside the world of the unknown.  This does not always feel comfortable to the organization.  Just don’t leave the innovation team “hanging out to dry!”

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