Tag Archives: jobs

Reducing Employee Churn During the Great Resignation

Reducing Employee Churn During the Great Resignation

For those of you struggling with your staffing levels or with finding talent during these exceedingly challenging times, I have exciting news to share!

My latest commissioned webinar is now available ON DEMAND:

Stop the Madness! How to reduce the risk of employee churn amid the Great Resignation

Synopsis from NICE CXone page:

It’s being called The Great Resignation: Millions of employees leaving their jobs every month! While the trend affects every industry, nowhere else is it felt more acutely than in contact centers. How do you keep agent churn from derailing your contact center?

Smart organizations know that it’s about more than salaries. Agents want work-life balance, and on the job, great tools and support to help them do their jobs well.

In this On-Demand webinar I explore what’s driving the Great Resignation and how to keep your agents engaged and satisfied.

Learn important strategies for keeping your agents from walking out the door:

  1. How giving agents purpose creates job satisfaction.
  2. How to create flexibility for agents to improve work-life balance.
  3. How to keep hybrid workforces connected and engaged.

Click here to access the webinar

I hope you enjoy it!

Please post any questions below in the comments.

There will be an accompanying white paper available soon.


NOTE: Commissioned thought leadership (articles, white papers, webinars, etc.) to accelerate a company’s sales and marketing efforts (including lead generation) is one of the services I provide in addition to the speeches and workshops I deliver as an innovation speaker.


Image credit: Pixabay

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12 Reasons to Write Your Own Letter of Recommendation

12 Reasons to Write Your Own Letter of Recommendation

GUEST POST from Arlen Meyers, M.D.

Are you stuck? The first step in making a career change is self reflection.

One way to describe yourself and your transferable skills and what you have in mind for the future is to write your own letter of recommendation instead of asking me to do it.

Here are some tips on how to do it. But, why should you do it?

  1. It saves me the trouble of doing it
  2. You know yourself a whole lot better than I do
  3. It makes you think about why somone would want to hire you
  4. It gives you some ideas about where your blind spots and skills gaps are once you have read the job description of a potential job
  5. You will do a much better job than I would
  6. It will give you the chance to use key words that will drive AI resume scanners
  7. You can link to your personal website and other online social media sites that I don’t know about
  8. You can delete social media posts and sites that are not flattering
  9. It will force you to buff up your resume and coordinate it with your Linked profile for a particular job
  10. You can use if for a personal statement, even if they are falling out of favor and a waste of time
  11. It is another way to be kind to yourself and cultivate your inner advocate
  12. It will help you get over your imposter syndrome and tell people about all those transferable skills you have

If you are taking the long view, then write your own obituary. If that’s too heavy a lift at your stage of the game, then just write you own letter of recommendation before you have to request one and ask someone you know, like and trust to send it for you at the appropriate time. I heartily recommend it.

Image Credit: Pixabay

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Digital Consulting Jobs at HCL – August 2021

HCL Digital Consulting Jobs

Change Management, Recruiting, Training and Development Jobs

As many of you already know, recently I joined HCL Digital Consulting to help clients with Customer Experience (CX) Strategy, Organizational Change & Transformation, Futurism & Foresight, and Innovation.

Our group is growing and there are four new job postings at HCL Digital Consulting in our Organizational Agility group that I’d like to share with you:

HCL Digital Consulting Jobs on Linkedin

Click the links to apply on LinkedIn, or if we know each other, feel free to contact me and I might be able to do an employee referral.

And as always, be sure and sign-up for my newsletter to stay in touch!

p.s. Be sure and check out my latest article on the HCL Blog


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An Innovation Evangelist Can Increase Your Reputation and Innovation Velocity

Chief Evangelist Braden Kelley

Building upon my popular article Rise of the Evangelist, I wanted to create an article for the global innovation community focused specifically on the importance of the innovation evangelist role.

In my previous article I defined five different types of evangelists that organizations may already have, or may want to hire, including:

  1. Chief Evangelist
  2. Brand Evangelists
  3. Product Evangelists
  4. Service Evangelists
  5. Innovation Evangelists

This specialization occurs when the evangelism an organization needs become too big for one evangelist to handle. At that point, a Chief Evangelist creates the evangelism strategy and manages the execution across the team of brand, innovation, and other evangelism focus areas.

When should an organization focus on innovation evangelism?

To continue to exist as a business, every organization should build an infrastructure for continuous innovation, but many don’t. If you’re not sure what this looks like, here is my Infinite Innovation Infrastructure (which leverages the Nine Innovation Roles):

Infinite Innovation Infrastructure

For those organizations investing in innovation, it is crucial to also invest in innovation evangelism when:

  1. Innovation is part of the company’s strategy
  2. Innovation is central to competitive differentiation
  3. The company wants to share their innovation stories
  4. The company wants to partner with customers to innovate
  5. The company wants to partner with suppliers to innovate
  6. The company wants to engage experts in innovation
  7. The company wants to engage the general public in innovation

You’ll notice many of these points hint at the need for an external talent strategy, and Innovation Evangelism must play a key role. Because of this, I encourage you to download and consult the success guide I created for Innocentive on Harnessing the Global Talent Pool to Accelerate Innovation which focuses on the elements and importance of external talent in any company’s innovation efforts.

Bill Joy, a co-Founder of Sun Microsystems, once famously said:

“There are always more smart people outside your company than within it.”

Any external talent strategy must accumulate energy and then unleash it in a focused direction. And part of the way to do that is by establishing a common language of innovation. The process begins by defining what innovation means to your organization. Consider looking at this as the WHO – WHAT – WHEN – WHERE – WHY – HOW of innovation:

  • WHO is to be involved in your innovation efforts?
  • WHAT does innovation mean to you? WHAT types of innovation are you focused on?
  • WHEN will you be looking for innovation input?
  • WHERE can people go to find out more? WHERE do they go to contribute?
  • WHY should people want to participate?
  • HOW can they participate?

Continue reading this article on InnovationManagement.se

… where we will answer these questions and more:

  • Should innovation evangelism be a role or a job?
  • What does an innovation evangelist do?
  • What makes a good innovation evangelist?


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Rise of the Evangelist

Chief Evangelist Braden Kelley

What is an evangelist?

When many people hear this term, their minds used to picture Billy Graham or Pat Robertson, but this is changing. Why?

Our perceptions of evangelists are transforming as the pace of change accelerates to construct a new reality faster than most human brains can process the changes.

This creates a chasm in understanding and change readiness that evangelists can help bridge in a number of different ways.

Let us look at what an evangelist really is…

Oxford Dictionaries say an evangelist is a “zealous advocate of something.”

Nine Innovation Roles EvangelistIn business, the evangelist is a role that any of us can take on (with varying levels of success). Evangelism is very important to innovation success, which is why the evangelist is one of The Nine Innovation Roles™. This is how I define this particular role:

“The Evangelists know how to educate people on what the idea is and help them understand it. Evangelists are great people to help build support for an idea internally, and also to help educate customers on its value.”

Notice at this point we are talking about an evangelist as a role that can be played by one or more people, and not as a job that one or more people hold. Evangelism normally will be a role and not a job, but there are inflection points where this must change.

Outside of an innovation context, evangelism often falls on the shoulders of CEOs, business owners and product managers within organizations. When the need for evangelism is small, this can work. But for most organizations, this is no longer the case.

When should you hire an evangelist?

The time to cross over from evangelism as a role to evangelism as a job is when:

  1. The pace of internal change is accelerating faster than employees can grasp without help
  2. The pace of external change is accelerating faster than customers can understand without help
  3. Your company is facing disruption by new entrants or existing competitors
  4. You’re considering a digital transformation
  5. You’ve already embarked upon a digital transformation
  6. You’re using Agile in product development
  7. Your brand essence is being shifted by you or your customers
  8. You need a more human and personal presence in your marketing efforts to better connect with customers

When one or more of these conditions are true, you’ll find that it isn’t possible for CEOs, business owners and product owners to meet the needs for evangelism in the short spurts of time these people can dedicate to the necessary activities.

As highlighted by Agile Product Development’s presence in the list, organizations leveraging Agile to develop software-based products will find that their product managers are always engaged with the backlog with little time to focus on evangelism. They’re always focused on shipping something.

Some organizations will resist adding evangelists to their team, feeling that such a role is superfluous, but having one or more people focused on evangelism delivers value to the organization by executing a range of incredibly important activities, including:

  • Growing awareness
  • Building a community around the company and/or plugging the company into pre-existing external communities (potentially taking the brand to places it has never been before)
  • Generating interest
  • Working with customers and the marketing team to identify the stories that need to be told and the themes that need to be introduced and/or reinforced
  • Creating desire
  • Building and maintaining conversations with the community that cares about your products/services/brands
  • Engaging in an open and honest dialogue to help gather the voice of the customer
  • Facilitating action
  • Practicing a human-centered design mindset to continuously elicit needs and surface wants and desired outcomes

Depending on the size of the organization you may decide to have a single evangelist, or some larger organizations have more than one type of evangelist, including:

  1. Chief Evangelist
  2. Brand Evangelists
  3. Product Evangelists
  4. Service Evangelists
  5. Innovation Evangelists

This specialization occurs when the evangelism an organization needs become too big for one evangelist to handle. At that point a Chief Evangelist creates the evangelism strategy and manages the execution across the team of brand, product, service and other evangelism focus areas.

So what makes a good evangelist?

Evangelists arrive from a range of different job specialties, but key knowledge, skills and abilities include:

  • Empathetic
  • Passionate About the Company’s Mission, Products/Services, and Customers
  • Comfortable Public Speaker
  • Efficient and Effective Writer
  • Human-Centered Design Mindset
  • Experienced with Social Media, Audio and Video
  • Skilled Content Creator
  • Continuous Learner
  • Self-Directed and Comfortable with Ambiguity

… and ideally your chosen evangelists will already have some presence in the communities important to you, or the knowledge of how to establish a presence in these communities.

Customer buying journeys are notoriously unpredictable, meandering, long and non-linear. Evangelism is a critical part of helping to build relationships with potential buyers and increasing the chances that your brand will be top of mind when a non-buyer finally becomes a potential customer of your products or services.

It’s a long-term non-transactional investment, one that will pay dividends if you see the wisdom in making the expenditure.

Has your organization already invested in evangelists? What learnings would you like to share in the comments?

Are you ready for the evangelists to rise in your organization?

Or do you need help with evangelism? (contact me if you do)

Share the love!

p.s. I wrote a follow-up article for InnovationManagement.se that you might also enjoy — Increase Your Innovation Reputation and Velocity with an Innovation Evangelist


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Accelerate Your 2018 Commitments and Start the Year Strong

Accelerate Your 2018 Commitments and Start the Year Strong

As 2018 picks up speed, perhaps you are a manager or leader with a project that you are responsible for finishing before the end of the first or second quarter. Why not get an MBA-qualified resource to help you complete the work?

I have a good network of highly skilled individuals and could find you a talented resource that can jump right in to almost any situation, get up to speed quickly and accelerate your 2018 commitments.

Or, perhaps I might be able to jump in and help out…

Whether you need part-time help or a full-time resource to help you close out a project before the end of the first or second quarter, please contact me, and let’s see if we can satisfy your resource needs, including specialties like:

  • Presentation creation
  • Help crafting a thought leadership piece you committed to
  • Executive communications
  • Marketing communications
  • Project management
  • Program management
  • Marketing strategy
  • Online marketing execution
  • Social media or community management
  • Training delivery or course creation
  • Workshop facilitation or assistance with workshops

Click here to get some extra help now


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Wrap Up Those 2017 Loose Ends and Finish the Year Strong

Wrap Up Those 2017 Loose Ends and Finish the Year Strong

As 2017 comes to a close, perhaps you are a manager or leader with a project that you are responsible for finishing before the end of the year. Why not get an MBA-qualified resource to help you complete the work?

I have a good network of highly skilled individuals and could find you a talented resource that can jump right in to almost any situation, get up to speed quickly and close out 2017 with a bang.

Whether you need part-time help or a full-time resource to help you close out a project before the end of the year, please contact me, and let’s see if we can satisfy your resource needs, including specialties like:

  • Presentation creation
  • Help crafting a thought leadership piece you committed to
  • Executive communications
  • Marketing communications
  • Project management
  • Program management
  • Marketing strategy
  • Online marketing execution
  • Social media or community management
  • Training delivery or course creation
  • Workshop facilitation or assistance with workshops

Click here to get some extra help now


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The Future of Fractional Employees

The Future of Fractional Employees

In my last article 10 Reasons to Hire a Part-Time Chief Innovation Officer, I looked at the reasons why an organization might want to hire someone part-time to lead their innovation efforts (a follow-up to my previous post Hiring the Right Chief Innovation Officer).

Now I’d like to explore the idea of a fractional employee in a much broader context with you. A few years ago in my popular white paper Harnessing the Global Talent Pool to Accelerate Innovation commissioned by Innocentive, I introduced the idea of building a global sensing network along with other ways that companies can reach outside their four walls to speed up their ability to innovate. I have continued since then to hypothesize that successful organizations of the future will possess more porous boundaries, becoming less like castles keeping everything inside their walls and more like atoms, freely combining with other atoms to form the molecules the market requires just-in-time.

Organization of the Future

Purpose and Passion

One of the key tenets of this belief is that purpose and passion are the key to unlocking the full potential of any human, and that inherently companies do a very job of unlocking either in their quest to match resumes with job descriptions.

In an effort to develop and retain employees, and fill discrete project needs, some companies are reaching beyond the job description to try and tap into more of the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the people they hire. One way this happens is through HR initiatives like the internal internships at Cisco, where a Finance employee with an interest or passion for marketing, could do an internal internship in Marketing, spending a small number of hours each week working on a discrete project with a resource need.

Outside of the organization, there are an increasing number of avenues for employees to use their un-tapped knowledge, skills, and employees to satisfy their quest for passion and purpose. These include challenge driven marketplaces for both crowdsourcing and open innovation, places like Innocentive, 99 Designs, Idea Connection, Crowdspring, and others.

Traveling the Hyperloop Ten Hours a Week

But now, we are starting to see direct to talent (DTT) models emerge. The latest example of the fractional employee model comes from Dirk Ahlborn of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), rethinking how companies are built in the first place. Instead of hiring full-time, salaried employees, Ahlborn has decided to crowdsource the labor to part-time workers and offer stock options in lieu of salary, successfully attracting about 450 workers, based in more than a dozen countries, moonlighting from organizations like NASA and Boeing.

HTT requires crowdsourced labor to commit to a 10-hour workweek to be eligible for stock. “The guys are working for stock options — they’re doing 10 times better job [than paid employees],” says Dirk Ahlborn.

Companies like Aecom, one of the world’s largest engineering design firms, are joining individuals in participating in the potentially “transformative” project, as a way to get employees executing mundane projects for the company to also get excited about building something new.

“I always tell everyone it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Ahlborn says. With 450 workers accumulated over the past couple of years and growing, Ahlborn adds, “It is becoming a movement.”

The Way Forward

From internal internships, to challenge-driven external innovation, to crowdsourced projects, to fractional employee initiatives, the world of work is changing as companies seek to accelerate to match the pace of continuous change and the continuous innovation expectations that come along with it.

If we go back to the Organization of the Future graphic above, you’ll see that job descriptions often overlap not just with employee knowledge, skills, and abilities but those of customers, partners, suppliers, and other employees as well.

Organizations seeking to increase their organizational agility will not only use tools like the Change Planning Toolkit™ but will also change their thinking about how they get work do

ne and will do a better job of recognizing when and where to tap into the abilities of other employees, partners, suppliers, and even customers to achieve the outcomes that will allow them to continue to surprise and delight their customers, clients, or constituents.

And this means embracing a fractional employee future.

Are you ready?

Get the Harnessing the Global Talent Pool to Accelerate Innovation white paper

Sources: Innovation Excellence, MSN

This article was originally featured on Linkedin


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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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?

Image credit: morgankervin.com


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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Hiring the Right Chief Innovation Officer

Hiring the Right Chief Innovation Officer

Every company begins as the nimble startup, organized around the solution to a single customer problem and executing that solution better than anyone else in the market (including the incumbents with deep pockets). But at some point the hunter inevitably becomes the hunted and that nimble startup as it evolves and scales, eventually becomes that more complex (but capable) incumbent. Inevitably it finds itself so focused on capturing all of the business for its existing solutions, that it finds itself at risk of missing the next evolution in customer needs.

The companies that last the longest, manage to fulfill existing customer needs with well delivered solutions, and identify new customer needs they can satisfy as customer needs (or wants) continue to evolve. But many companies fail to do so quickly enough, especially in our new reality where it is easier than ever to start and scale a solution around the globe with limited resources. Innovation is the key to remaining relevant with customers. Innovation is the key to remaining alive.

It’s innovate or die, and this new reality leaves all companies focused on Winning the War for Innovation.

This quest to win the war for innovation has led many organizations to begin hiring Chief Innovation Officers (CINO), Innovation Managers, VP’s of Innovation, or Innovation Directors.

But many organizations have done so in haste…

There is a right way and a wrong way to hire a Chief Innovation Officer (or other innovation leader).

In this article we will look at the Do’s and Don’ts of successfully hiring the right Chief Innovation Officer.

First, the Don’ts:

  1. Don’t hire a Chief Innovation Officer before the Board of Directors and senior leadership understands what innovation is (AND ISN’T)
  2. Don’t hire a Chief Innovation Officer before the Board of Directors and senior leaders are all publicly committed to innovation
  3. Don’t hire a Chief Innovation Officer before the Board of Directors and senior leadership have created a budget to fund discrete innovation projects
  4. 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)
  5. 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

Being cognizant of the Don’ts will help you avoid hiring a Chief Innovation Officer before you’re able to help set them (and the organization) up for success.

We are now ready to look at the Do’s, the characteristics, skills, and abilities to look for as you search for a great Chief Innovation Officer (and team).

As I’ve written before in Death of the Chief Innovation Officer, when we think about hiring a Chief Innovation Officer (CINO) or an Innovation Director, VP of Innovation, or Innovation Manager, it is important to view your innovation leader, not as the person responsible for innovating, but instead as the person responsible for enabling innovation, encouraging it, inspiring it, facilitating it, and coordinating it. In short, what you are looking for is more of an Innovation Enablement Leader.

The implication? This person’s job should be to lead not to manage, and to enable instead of control. What you’re looking for is someone to facilitate 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

1. Cultivating a Culture of Curiosity

Curiosity drives innovation, and so the more curious people you have in your organization, the more innovation you are going to be able to generate. A good Chief Innovation Officer (Innovation Enablement Leader) can help cultivate a culture of curiosity. Amplifying curiosity in your organization is one of the most important improvements you can make in your culture.

Many of my views on improving your innovation culture have been detailed in this white paper Five Ways to Make Your Innovation Culture Smell Better I wrote for Planview and in my popular book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire.

2. Collection of Inspiration and Insight

Curiosity is driven by inspiration and insight, and so a good Innovation Enablement Leader excels at collecting and sharing inspiration and insight. This can include:

  • Teaching people inspiration gathering frameworks like the Four Lenses of Innovation from Rowan Gibson and idea generation methods like SCAMPER
  • Installing an insight gathering tool (which may or may not be merged together with an idea management solution)
  • Building a Global Sensing Network (click the link to learn more)

Building a Global Sensing Network

3. Connections

Innovation is about collecting and connecting the dots. A good Innovation Enablement Leader is good at building the connections inside (and outside) the organization that help to accelerate the gathering and dissemination of inspiration, insight, and the other elements crucial to effective (and sustained) innovation. Building on the idea of building a global sensing network (see #2), innovative organizations increasingly turn their attention outwards for innovation, recognizing that there are more smart people outside the organization than inside. This leads a good Innovation Enablement Leader to focus on Harnessing the Global Talent Pool to Accelerate Innovation.

4. Creation

The job of an Innovation Enablement Leader (or Innovation Facilitator) is to serve the rest of the organization and to work across the organization to help remove barriers to innovation and to focus on the Seven C’s of a Successful Innovation Culture. This could also mean providing a set of tools and methodologies for creative problem solving and other aspects of innovation work, organizing events, and other activities that support deepening capabilities across the Seven C’s of Successful Innovation Culture.

And because innovation is all about change, a good Innovation Enablement Leader will have a strong organizational change understanding and capabilities, including an understanding of the Five Keys to Successful Change from the Change Planning Toolkit™ (coming soon) and from my upcoming book Charting Change (Feb 2016):

Five Keys to Successful Change 550

A good Innovation Enablement Leader will know when to create a new innovation in-house, when to partner with an external entity like a University, startup, supplier, or other organization, and when to license a piece of technology or to acquire another company or startup in order to realize the desired innovation result for the company’s customers.

A good Innovation Enablement Leader knows which elements of the successful innovation they can best help to facilitate and where they need to call in help. This leads us nicely into #5.

5. Collaboration

Too often we treat people as commodities that are interchangeable and maintain the same characteristics and aptitudes. Of course, we know that people are not interchangeable, yet we continually pretend that they are anyway — to make life simpler for our reptile brain to comprehend. Deep down we know that people have different passions, skills, and potential, but even when it comes to innovation, we expect everybody to have good ideas.

I’m of the opinion that all people are creative, in their own way. That is not to say that all people are creative in the sense that every single person is good at creating lots of really great ideas, nor do they have to be. I believe instead that everyone has a dominant innovation role at which they excel, and that when properly identified and channeled, the organization stands to maximize its innovation capacity. I believe that all people excel at one of nine innovation roles, and that when organizations put the right people in the right innovation roles, that your innovation speed and capacity will increase.

Nine Innovation Roles

Here are The Nine Innovation Roles:

1. Revolutionary

  • The Revolutionary is the person who is always eager to change things, to shake them up, and to share his or her opinion. These people tend to have a lot of great ideas and are not shy about sharing them. They are likely to contribute 80 to 90 percent of your ideas in open scenarios.

2. Conscript

  • The Conscript has a lot of great ideas but doesn’t willingly share them, either because such people don’t know anyone is looking for ideas, don’t know how to express their ideas, prefer to keep their head down and execute, or all three.

3. Connector

  • The Connector does just that. These people hear a Conscript say something interesting and put him together with a Revolutionary; The Connector listens to the Artist and knows exactly where to find the Troubleshooter that his idea needs.

4. Artist

  • The Artist doesn’t always come up with great ideas, but artists are really good at making them better.

5. Customer Champion

  • The Customer Champion may live on the edge of the organization. Not only does he have constant contact with the customer, but he also understands their needs, is familiar with their actions and behaviors, and is as close as you can get to interviewing a real customer about a nascent idea.

6. Troubleshooter

  • Every great idea has at least one or two major roadblocks to overcome before the idea is ready to be judged or before its magic can be made. This is where the Troubleshooter comes in. Troubleshooters love tough problems and often have the deep knowledge or expertise to help solve them.

7. Judge

  • The Judge is really good at determining what can be made profitably and what will be successful in the marketplace.

8. Magic Maker

  • The Magic Makers take an idea and make it real. These are the people who can picture how something is going to be made and line up the right resources to make it happen.

9. Evangelist

  • The Evangelists know how to educate people on what the idea is and help them understand it. Evangelists are great people to help build support for an idea internally, and also to help educate customers on its value.

As you can see, creating and maintaining a healthy innovation portfolio requires that you develop the organizational capability of identifying what role each individual is best at playing in your organization. It should be obvious that a failure to involve and leverage all nine roles along the idea generation, idea evaluation, and idea commercialization path will lead to suboptimal results. To be truly successful, you must be able to bring in the right roles at the right times to make your promising ideas stronger on your way to making them successful. Most organizations focus too much energy on generating the ideas and not enough on developing their ideas or their people.

A good Innovation Enablement Leader will recognize which of the Nine Innovation Roles they excel at and bring in other people into their organization that can help create a well rounded innovation team, and utilize the Nine Innovation Roles to build well-balanced innovation project teams during the execution phase.

Successful Innovation Enablement Leaders typically will be strong Revolutionaries, skilled Evangelists and passionate Customer Champions, but they also must work hard to be an impartial Judge.

At the same time, skilled Innovation Enablement Leaders will build strong relationships with the heads of strategy, digital, customer insight, research and development (R&D), new product development, and operations to both understand where to focus on creating new and differentiated value for customers, and how to create innovation that the company can successfully make, distribute, and support at scale.

6. Commercialization

You are hiring an Innovation Enablement Leader (whether that is a Chief Innovation Officer, VP of Innovation, Innovation Director, or Innovation Manager) not to shepherd a single potential innovation project from insight to market, but to build a sustainable, continuous source of innovation, and a culture that reinforces your method for creating continuous innovation. One tool I’ve created for all types of Innovation Enablement Leaders is the Eight I’s of Infinite Innovation™, which as you can see, places inspiration at the center of looping, infinite process (see #2).

Eight I's of Infinite Innovation

7. Communications

Most organizations have innovated at least once in their existence, and in many organizations people are still innovating. A true Innovation Enablement Leader is more of a coach, supporting emergent innovation, and helping people test and learn, prototype and find the right channel to scale the most promising insight-driven ideas (or work with the organization to create new channels).

A good Innovation Enablement Leader excels at helping to define AND consistently communicate and reinforce the organization’s common language of innovation. Several companies all around the world have purchased my book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire in large quantities for their senior leadership team (and even substantial parts of their organization) to help build their common language of innovation, or brought me in to help facilitate innovation workshops and knowledge transfer to help jumpstart their innovation program.

Conclusion

Are you seeking to control innovation with a Chief Innovation Officer or to facilitate it with an Innovation Enablement Leader?

Ultimately, 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 as I’ll describe in my next post, some organizations may feel more comfortable bringing in a fractional (or part-time) Chief Innovation Officer (CINO) or Innovation Enablement Leader because of their size or their innovation maturity (or readiness), and that’s okay too.

So, stay tuned for an article on fractional or part-time Chief Innovation Officers (CINOs), and keep innovating!


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!


Image credit: blog.internshala.com


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