An ultimate new job: Chief Innovation Officer

Think outside of the box? How about creating a new one. This excites me big time! There’s a new emerging kind of role in the marketplace, and Wikipedia has a short entry for it: Chief Innovation Officer. This is so new the acronym for it isn’t settled yet — I’ve see it as CINO and CNO.

What kind of a role is this? — According to What does it mean to be a chief innovation officer? “Chief innovation officer: one part hacker, one part change agent, one part idea generator, one part creator of collisions“. Sounds like my kind of dream job.

And what is innovation? Mark W. Johnson describes in Viewpoint:The Role of the Chief Innovation Officer the need to be devising a language of innovation:

… A common language that is used across the entire organization helps frame a company’s principles of innovation. The starting point for that shared language is a practical definition of innovation. The definition I favor depicts innovation as something new: a product, service, process, business model, or combination thereof that can be commercialized because it solves the problem of a “job to be done” for the customer. Whatever language is used, it should distinguish between innovation in the core business and innovation that creates platforms for new-business creation. That distinction is critically important because the chief innovation officer’s raison d’etre is to lead new-business innovation that will ensure the company’s continued survival and growth.

Orchestrating-to-get-things-Done1What does s/he do? Gina Colarelli O’Connor explains in The Real Role of a Chief Innovation Officer that this person is an orchestrator, and it’s an exciting trend for 2 reasons:

First, it signals a recognition that innovation is distinct from other functions, including R&D, Corporate Strategy and Marketing. In other words, innovation is accepted as incorporating both invention and new business creation. Secondly, it shows there is a mandate for companies to build a strong capability for breakthrough innovation.”

However, research by O’Connor’s group shows this is only the hope and not yet the reality. “In several companies we have studied of late, the turnover in the role is high, and the role title is modified frequently. Some tell us that there is ‘baggage’ associated with the title, left over from its previous holder’s failure to make things happen, or that resentment is building in the organization among those not incorporated into the ‘innovation’ function.

Plus, I’d add that not all innovations are the big game-changers. Most look smaller. This chart from The Four Levels of Innovation: Assess the Time, Effort, and Resources Necessary to Join the Ranks of Innovation (Kris Miner, 2010) shows 4 levels:




3 responses to “An ultimate new job: Chief Innovation Officer”

  1. Hello,

    Innovation is needed in paid leave policies. Are any dads taking one-year or more of paid paternity leave? What are some novel one-year or more paid employee leave practices?

    Chat with me at or Twitter (michelelove30).

    — Michele Jackson

  2. Michele, thanks for adding a comment. There are so many innovations much needed in so many areas. Indeed.

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