An increasing number of corporates are creating Chief Innovation Officer (CINO) positions that can report to either Chief Marketing Officers, Heads of R&D, or directly to the President. These innovation leaders are not individually responsible for innovating, but instead are responsible for enabling innovation, encouraging it, inspiring it, facilitating it, and coordinating it; essentially an Innovation Enablement Leader.
This person’s job should be to lead not to manage, and to enable instead of control. Innovation is becoming an increasingly high priority for firms across all industries, and understanding how to tackle the challenge can be difficult. Maximising a company's innovation activities requires both external and internal activities, and a strong leader to guide the company to be as innovative as they hope them to be.
Strategy behind the Play:
The primary aim of a CINO is to support best practices, skill development, and new business unit initiatives. As a methodology expert and facilitator, the CINO should consider various innovation efforts such as training company personnel, sourcing direct seed funding, and ensuring that there are organisation-wide platforms for idea generation, such as incubators.
“Innovation has nothing to do with technology – this is about people and behaviour.” -- Neal Cross, CINO at DBS Bank
It is particularly important for the CINO to consider company innovation culture when going through a transformation, as even experienced businesses with the best management practices can unknowingly create an environment which is hostile to innovation. This is of particular concern in business units where performance metrics are based on short-term goals which are based on their current activities. In this situation, managers will often instinctively reject innovations that won’t immediately contribute to their goals.
Employing a powerful executive, such as a CINO, in a large organisation can help to counter this instinct by designing more innovation-friendly organisational environments.
Limitations & Risks:
Initiating the Play:
Launching this play requires a moderate initial capital outlay.
Key steps to initiate:
Running the Play:
The CINO’s key role is to constantly be aware of all internal innovation activities. They are responsible for identifying and proposing areas where technology, company structure and day-to-day practices can be combined and refined to drive the business towards its corporate goals.
Typical variations of this play include:
A Chief Innovation Officer can help to design more innovation-friendly organisational environments.
Play in Action:
In 2016, Neal Cross, CIO of DBS Bank was recognised as the most disruptive Chief Innovation Officer globally. The judging panel recognised his “down-to-earth and practical approach in helping to roll out innovation across the bank” as a key factor to catalyse innovation.
Cross is spearheading one of DBS‘s largest internal projects, Iconic Journeys, an ongoing initiative which looks to fundamentally shift how customers interact with the bank. To do this, he is responsible for DBS‘s extensive innovation program, which saw the introduction of lean start-up methodologies and human-centred design. He also leads the DBS Innovation Group (DiG) which helps DBS employees embrace an innovative mindset by equipping them with the relevant training and tools.
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