The Innovation Officer (I/O)

Eaglee-1965796First let’s look at what is driving you to hire an Innovation Officer (I/O Purposeful Pun). What is the problem statement that defines the issues as you understand them? A common statement is “We stink at bringing new stuff to market” or “new products get put aside they take to ling!”

Let’s drill down, what do you want to bring to market, how often, how disruptive, what is it you want the market to say about your company products and brand. Your company is about products delivered to market, their creativeness, how they solve problems, their quality, and your services.

This is your ends statement, what do you see as success? New features, whole new products in your area? Fast follow? Innovate to a new platform in 5 years! The final answers you can scope with your new IO after he/she does some internal investigations.

The key to a successful innovation culture that delivers is the leadership team full embrace of the process and goals. All companies think about moonshots but great success comes from working in the box while visioning outside. An effective framework for this conversation is the three horizons below.

The three horizons:

1) Current portfolio mix – (Core) Great product management, focused on the product lifecycle, cross functional delivery and production, Core revenue and company growth

2) The next innovations – (Extend) Changing and leading in current markets and near markets, Lean frameworks and significant New product concepts, Grab future innovation and maintain leadership, can serve current business units, this is sculpting and smashing new products in current business units new models

3) Disrupt – (Explore) new platforms, this will power the core revenues in 4-6 years, Disruptive through incubation separate business units, lean frameworks, tiger teams, robust executive support, new business and business models

Innovation is a core function of the company like any other, it has been evolving rapidly in recent years with the injection of new tools that allow rapid iteration, cost effective short run production, and increased customer collaboration. We are not playing start-up, we are building a cultural focus, process and cadence that delivers product that customers get excited about. Every company has done this well before however early growth overshadows innovation and in todays’ demanding markets a new focus is required, someone needs to keep this function productive.

Now that we know where we are going it is time to get a leader.

What is the profile?
All the skills of a start-up founder and rapid growth CEO. Cross functionally fluent in many of the business areas and strong with R&D processes. An Organizational Developer who can drive change through influence on with the company and innovation teams. This person is the conduit between the executive team or sponsor and the innovation team, clearly the holder of the larger companies’ vision and mission in the product roadmap. Most of all someone who can sit in the tension between conflicting parameters until an answer is clear enough to grasp then has the courage to go with it.

Strong product management skills are the highest order then business skills. Product managers ship stuff and if your innovation groups are not shipping they are wasting time and energy so your IO needs to be able to sell and work with customers at an executive level. Been there done that in all areas of the business, I remember the first CEO role I had, there were so many things I had to learn beyond the experiences of the start-up

Cultural leader
• Clear concise trusted communicator – it is about the people
• Thought leader open and inclusive – demonstrate lifetime learning, curiosity
• Contextual listener – Cognitive interviewer
• Organization development, non-political leader –
• Eager to Evolve personally and processes
• Cross-cultural from boardroom to scrum master
• Positive, Optimistic personality

Product Executive
• Serial Innovator with broad hands on experience in the Innovation Frameworks
• Portfolio level Product Management – Strong Product Line Management
• Life-cycle management including sun setting
• Deep understanding of Phase-Gate type processes
• Working knowledge of R&D processes, Agile, Kan-ban, Waterfall
• Ideation capture and rapid evaluation
• Curious and critical thinker

Revenue/Road-map Focused
• Marketer inbound and outbound communications
• R&D trends and tech savvy
• Financial and M&A experience
• Broad P&L management
• Owner of vision and mission
• Strategic and forward looking
Reports to
CEO, COO, Leadership team
Matrixed responsibility to Business unit P&L holders, Legal, M&A, Marketing, Engineering

In an innovation role experience wins, you are seeking to disrupt and for that understanding of many things is important. The ability to demonstrate value then quantify return on time and money is important. This role is not about ideas, it is about delivering the future and upholding the brand promise of your company.

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