Business Crawls Toward an Innovation Framework

By Samuel Greengard Print this article Print

The growing prominence of the chief innovation officer indicates that innovation is becoming an important business priority.

By Sam Greengard

It's hardly news that the structure of the modern corporation is undergoing fundamental change. In order to compete more effectively, businesses are searching for ways to manage strategic issues more effectively.

Enter the chief innovation officer. Only a few years ago, the title seemed a bit eccentric and stilted. However, according to a global innovation leadership study conducted by Capgemini Consulting in partnership with the IESE Business School at the University of Navarra in Spain, the role of the chief innovation officer can no longer be discounted.

A survey of 260 executives worldwide found that 43 percent of respondents have a formally accountable innovation executive in place, compared to just 33 percent in 2011. In addition, 32 percent reported that building and nurturing an innovation ecosystem is a top priority. "This rise of the chief innovation officer suggests driving innovation is becoming a key priority for companies everywhere,” the report states.

On the other hand, 58 percent of companies surveyed still lack an explicit innovation strategy, and most companies fall into the category of "innovation laggards." Only 30 percent of respondents agree that they have an effective organizational structure in place for driving innovation, and only 24 percent believe that innovation efforts inside their companies are effectively aligned. A mere 7 percent fall into the category of "innovation leaders."

Most innovation strategies continue to be driven from the top-down, with only 11 percent of respondents explicitly involving employees in the strategy development process. The CEO is still considered the most important source of an innovation culture (69 percent).

"The study reveals a worrying lack of involvement of non-senior employees in the innovation process within most companies," notes Paddy Miller, professor of managing people in organizations at the IESE Business School in Barcelona. A more "bottom-up" approach that focuses on "people as the key source of competitive advantage" is necessary.

"It is vital to capture individual insights from both managers and employees," Miller added.  

This article was originally published on 2012-04-04
Samuel Greengard is a freelance writer for Baseline.
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