According to Wikipedia, innovation is a new way of doing something. Successful companies invent a new way of doing something, then package it, and sell it. Innovation is business. Success is a direct result of innovations on all levels. So it is no surprise that a new executive position is popping up within many large organizations these days, the Chief Innovation Officer.
Job descriptions may vary, but for a CIO, idea generation will always be king. Real innovators know that there is never a shortage of ideas. That is just the way some people’s brains work, constantly thinking of new ways to do things. Those are the people that can rise to the duties of CIO, and lead corporations to the next level.
This job position has become more and more popular over the past year and a half. Companies like Citigroup, Coca-Cola, Apple, Google, and Toyota all list this position among their list of executives in the organization. You can even attend various workshops and seminars to learn what you need to know to fill this role. Some of the things you will learn: fostering an innovative corporate culture, establishing innovation processes, building idea teams, etc.
In 2006, the University of Colorado became the first university to offer degrees in innovation with its Bachelor of Innovation program. I am sure there are fresh young minds out there being groomed for these positions right now.
In my opinion, a CIO can go a long way to helping a company go from good to great. The key is hiring the right person for the job, and then giving them the space and freedom to define the role for themselves. The innovation department is a place where ideas go to develop and people go to learn. It can be an extension of R&D, with a little technology and marketing thrown in the mix.
A lot of the qualities that I would look for in a Chief Innovation Officer are those qualities shared by entrepreneurs. He or she needs to be able to come up with ideas, strategize, and put it into action. They need to be able to see things through from start to finish, and then they need to be able to pass it on to others within the organization to run it while they create the next great idea. A good CIO should own their position, and be able to develop and put into action a few big ideas every quarter. With this type of constant growth, good companies will never be stagnant or hesitant, and it will keep things moving in the right direction.