Birth of the Part-Time Chief Innovation Officer

Birth of the Part-Time Chief Innovation Officer

In my last article, we looked at the keys to Hiring the Right Chief Innovation Officer, including some do’s and don’ts. I encourage you to follow the link and read the details of how to hire the right person to lead innovation in your organization, but to quickly highlight some of them…

First, the Part-Timing Chief Innovation Officer Hiring Don’ts:

  • Don’t hire a Chief Innovation Officer before the Board of Directors and senior leadership understands what innovation is (AND ISN’T)
  • Don’t hire a Chief Innovation Officer before the Board of Directors and senior leaders are all publicly committed to innovation
  • Don’t hire a Chief Innovation Officer before the Board of Directors and senior leadership have created a budget to fund discrete innovation projects
  • Don’t hire a Chief Innovation Officer before you move beyond the innovation as a project mindset to view innovation as a process and a capability that you need to build (like good governance or operational excellence)
  • Don’t hire a Chief Innovation Officer before you understand how new product development (NPD), research and development (R&D), and innovation will differ in your organization

And the Do’s (the Seven C’s of a Successful Innovation Culture):

  1. Cultivating a Culture of Curiosity
  2. Collection of inspiration and insight
  3. Connections
  4. Creation
  5. Collaboration
  6. Commercialization
  7. Communications

These points from my previous article Hiring the Right Chief Innovation Officer built upon some points I raised in another article Death of the Chief Innovation Officer.

In this article we will explore the idea that every organization needs an Innovation Enablement Leader, whether you call that person a Chief Innovation Officer (CINO), VP of Innovation, Innovation Director, or Innovation Program Manager, but for many organizations it may not make sense or be the right time to have a full-time employee leading your innovation efforts.

Let me say that again for emphasis…

For many organizations it may not be the right time to have a full-time employee leading your innovation efforts.

This does not mean there is ever a reason not to have someone leading your innovation efforts, BUT it does mean that there are times where it may make more sense to have someone from inside (or outside) the organization to lead your innovation efforts on LESS THAN a full-time basis.

Here are ten (10) reasons why it may be more appropriate to hire a part-time Innovation Enablement Leader (aka Fractional Chief Innovation Officer (FCINO)), instead of a full-time one:

  1. Many of the DONT’S may still be in place in your organization and you may need help in removing them so you can get started
  2. You may not be able to afford the dedication of a full-time resource to leading innovation (budget or political constraints)
  3. A risk averse organization may prefer to dedicate part of a single employee’s time to lead innovation efforts in the early days of their commitment to innovation
  4. The organization may be in the crawl phase of a crawl, walk, run innovation strategy and so in the short run only a part-time resource may be required
  5. There may be certain elements of the responsibilities of an Innovation Enablement Leader that you want other employees to own, leaving less than a full-time resource need for an Innovation Enablement Leader
  6. The need may be clear but you don’t have anyone in-house with the right knowledge, skills, and abilities to lead innovation enablement
  7. In some cultures (both country and company) someone from outside the organization (and even outside the country) may be given more leeway to recommend and help drive change than a full-time employee
  8. Hiring a part-time Innovation Enablement Leader from outside to accelerate the organization’s innovation efforts, may seem less traumatic than hiring a full-time external resource
  9. You may want to hire an external resource to work part-time with a new internal Innovation Enablement Leader to accelerate their development
  10. You’ve got more than a full-time employee’s worth of work to do, so you add another resource from inside or outside the organization

As I mentioned in Hiring the Right Chief Innovation Officer, the responsibility for innovation should remain with the business, under an innovation vision, strategy and goals set by the CEO and senior leadership. It’s okay to bring someone in from the outside to help get things off to a strong start, to build a strong foundation, and to set your Innovation Enablement Leader up for success.

Many organizations will want to have someone full-time on their payroll facilitating their innovation efforts, but in this article we’ve looked at some reasons why an organization may instead want to invest in a fractional (or part-time) Chief Innovation Officer (CINO) or Innovation Enablement Leader because of their size or their innovation maturity (or readiness). Whether you source your Innovation Enablement Leader from inside or outside the organization, and whether you do so on a full-time or a part-time basis, the key is that you dedicate someone to organizing the innovation efforts of your organization, to building a common language of innovation, and to empowering people to increase their personal innovation capabilities and the innovation capability and capacity of the organization.

Which way is best for your organization?

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P.S. If you’re looking to hire a Chief Innovation Officer (an Innovation Enablement Leader) on a full-time or part-time basis, drop me an email and I can either tackle the role or find someone else who can!

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About Braden Kelley

Braden Kelley is a Human-Centered Experience, Innovation and Transformation consultant at HCL Technologies, a popular innovation speaker, workshop leader, and creator of the Human-Centered Change™ methodology. He is the author of Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire from John Wiley & Sons and Charting Change from Palgrave Macmillan. Braden has been advising companies since 1996, while living and working in England, Germany, and the United States. Braden is a US Navy veteran and earned his MBA from top-rated London Business School. Follow him on Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
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