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Hiring A Chief Innovation Officer Is A Bad Idea

You’ll have almost no chance to really innovate—and here’s why.

Recently, Harvard Business Review published an article titled What Kind of Chief Innovation Officer Does Your Company Need? In it, the authors describe the growing demand for such an executive-level role and discuss ideas on how to consider it relative to your organization’s own needs.

Sounds all well and good, right? Not really. And here’s why: You can’t delegate innovation. 

Innovation is a mindset—not a job title or a seat in the C-suite. To really work, innovation must be part of an organization’s cultural fabric, and everyone has to buy in. It is much more than something you do; it is the way that your company thinks.

So when you hire a so-called chief innovation officer, you virtually relieve everyone else of the responsibility and accountability for making innovation happen. Rather than elevating—and expecting—the entire organization to pursue breakthrough ideas, you establish an environment that allows people to opt out or become conscientious objectors to change.

Innovation is hard

Nowadays, innovation is little more than a buzzword for doing something new. But new is easy. Innovation, on the other hand, is hard. It’s about solving problems and creating real value. And that requires breakthrough ideas and a deep, no-holds-barred commitment to pursuing them.

Today In: Leadership

Innovation inherently means change. It means breaking the rules. It means busting norms. And, perhaps hardest of all, it means risking failure.

Yet, by and large, people don’t like those things. Most not only resist them, but also learn to avoid them at almost any cost. Still, the kind of dramatic culture change that innovation needs is only possible if it starts at the top, and everyone on the team owns a part of it

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