This site is part of the Informa Connect Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

Enlighten, inspire, and learn to build a culture of innovation that disrupts your industry.

The Changing Role of the Chief Innovation Officer (CInO)

Share this article

As the competency of corporate
continues to expand and improve, more Chief Innovation
Officer roles are appearing in large, corporate organizations. This is a
welcome development and recognition of the ongoing value that leadership sees innovation efforts delivering for organizations. This recognition is
demonstrated by the focus on the CInO role by several conferences, including The Back End of Innovation in Las Vegas on
October 6-8.
I have been reading a lot about the CInO role lately and
recently spoke with Luis Solis, the author of a book titled 'Innovation
Alchemists: What Every CEO Should Know to Hire the Right Chief Innovation
' to get his perspectives on the CInO role in the context of this
value generation.
What changes have you
seen with the CInO role recently?
As the CInO role continues to evolve and develop, one
significant change is that the previous focus on process and activity is being
augmented with a serious and deep scouting function. That includes scouting for
technologies, trends, and cultural insights. This means that the role is
expanding into other more established corporate functions, such as Competitive
Intelligence, Strategy, and HR, so these CInO's need to better manage and
shape relationships across the organization, often where there may be competing
interests. More than ever, it's a delicate balancing act.
There is also more focus on impacting the culture of an
organization as a precondition for success, but not only that, it is viewed
that the CInO and resources may be a better catalyst for shifting the
organization towards an innovative culture, perhaps more than what has been in
place until now.
How do you see the
role changing going forward?
Look, the reality is that the CInO is here to stay and it's
an expanding role. We are in a macro-economic recovery and this gives companies
more confidence. So I think that this and next year will be a bumper crop of
CInO roles becoming available. Unfortunately I don't think that there is a body
of future leaders to take that leading role, so there is a market opportunity
for that pipeline to be filled.
I have heard you talk
about the importance of employee innovation networks, so how does that
connect back to the CInO role?
This goes back to maturity, because the current view is that
innovation takes place at the BU level. What this approach misses is connecting
the effect of those project teams for intelligence gathering, practice sharing,
risk reduction, speed, etc. All the benefits that come from connecting networks
are missed, or at least more difficult to generate with discrete teams. So
organizations are anywhere above two years in their innovation journey are, or
should be, looking for something that is better than the separate projects.
Innovation networks are just the natural extension beyond that.
At a certain point, leaders recognize that this is more than
just about an innovation department or program, but it is a set of capabilities
spread across the organization. With that perspective, the innovation program
becomes the enabler of systems behaviors, rituals, and ultimately about
building and managing an enhanced culture.
What has surprised
you about the book's reception, now that it has been out for a few months?
The first thing that I learned was that there is an
extraordinary amount of interest in this CInO role. Leaders want to know 'What
it is'? 'How it should be designed and organized'? 'Who is qualified to fill
that role'?
What I had not expected to encounter is that most leaders
are not asking 'if' they should have a CInO, but now it's 'who do we use and
when'? It's just a given now that this role is essential to business leaders.
To me that's a pretty big change in the past couple of years.
What are the biggest
risks or conflicts that CInO's need to manage?
One of the key issues for CInO's is that they are impacting
leaders of Strategy, Marketing, Competitor Intelligence, Digital, and R&D
functions in vary tangible ways. So proper thought needs to be given to addressing
the inevitable tensions that this new role generates. When designing this role,
the CEO really does need to account for 2-4 years of their support, or it will
be difficult to take route and grow. In my experience that has been a
challenge, especially when a CEO rotates which can lead to a high rate of
About the Author: Anthony Ferrier is the CEO of Culturevate (,
an organization that empowers a company's employees to execute ideas and
inspire a culture of innovation, through employee networks, a resource portal
and training programs (developed in association with Professor
Chris Labash
from Carnegie Mellon
). Anthony is a widely read author (, speaker and
advisor to industry leaders at organizations such as Pfizer, U.S. Postal
Service, Johnson & Johnson, ADP and Fidelity. He previously led The BNY
Mellon innovation program and has a Masters of Commerce (University of Sydney) and Bachelor of
Economics (University of Newcastle).

Share this article

Upcoming event

FEI USA: Front End of Innovation

20 - 21 Sep 2021, Boston
Go to site