I am sure many you wonder what a person with a fancy title like chief innovation officer does on a day-to day basis. After having taken additional responsibility to an existing head of technology role, I realised it is more than a full time job.
Innovation has been a buzzword for a while, but intensified this decade as many companies are now facing competition from outside of their core industry.
With the successes of companies like Google, Facebook and Uber to name a few, it is apparent that “Innovate or Die” is not just hype but a reality.
>See also: Rise of the Chief Innovation Officer
Owing to greater competition, technology churn, digitalisation and budget cuts, innovation has gone mainstream to deliver results.
As a chief innovation officer, the expectations from me are very diverse compared to management, colleagues and customers.
A day begins when you think of how to make sure that you are learning about new trends emerging from industries where your company is focused.
A key priority is to look at the various issues and gaps that your existing customers are experiencing by speaking with the account managers and preparing yourself for proposals that need your attention to make it “different”.
You also have to check the morale of your colleagues to ensure they are not only performing their day- to-day job, but also questioning the status quo to find ways to improve your offering.
Being a chief innovation officer is not just the job of one person. I am the face and go-to for many colleagues who have innovative ideas.
Part of my job is to investigate these ideas, look at how to build a business case around them, and help take them forward.
Most importantly, I need to examine every failure, which is a rich learning platform that assists with ensuring the next idea stands a better chance of becoming a success.
This role is not about winning every day but taking stock and the time to analyse, learn and realign resources and tools to keep moving forward.
You are also expected to manage multiple objectives of an organisation, such as driving resource allocations for strategy and profit goals set by management (CEO directive), delivering performance goals set by teams (COO directive), and extracting time from colleagues for entrepreneurship and career development (CIO directive),
Meanwhile, the head of sales expects you to demonstrate to customers that the organisation is always thinking about adding value by innovative means, and the head of marketing wants you to be a thought leader in the industry.
It is a precarious but thrilling tightrope to tread. The role prepares you to achieve great things that often start with a small budget, and to manage conflicts across the divisions.
Chief innovation officers like me are lucky as we often have ready access to cross-company collaboration and the ability to call in support. Without this, we will not be able to function effectively.
To summarise, the key job for me is to create an environment that values and empowers colleagues with innovative ideas to have the forum and resources to explore and develop concepts to deliver the best results.
We apply a combination of people skills, technological wisdom and business understanding to help us throughout the day. Every day is unique and exciting as today could be the day you hit on a game-changing idea.