Every Organisation needs a Chief innovator

Last year I read a very interesting article in Stratgyzer about why every organisation needs a Chief Entrepreneur. Here I will outline why we believe a Chief Innovator may be a better hire for your organisation in the future. Although I agree with the core message being that organisations need one person to champion the future of the company who will inspire other staff to think like entrepreneurs, there are some risks in hiring entrepreneurs, especially Chief Entrepreneurs.

Firstly, it is rare that you will find an entrepreneur that genuinely buys into the values of your company or the products that you are selling. The central reason for this is that they often have their own agenda at the top of their minds. This isn’t to say that you can’t find entrepreneurs willing to go into partnerships with you but then they become a co-founder rather than a loyal member of staff that encourages the characteristics of entrepreneurship within any individual department.

Many organisations require more than the common personality that we identify with entrepreneurs: Passion, resilience, flexibility, risk-taker, management skills, knowledge and control. To expand on these traits and bring in the creativity needed to propel a new vision for your company in the future, the company requires a Chief Innovator. The role of the Chief Innovator is to drive, inspire and instigate innovation across all of your departments. The innovator recognises the positive aspects of all employees and the soaks up the ideas from everyday norms. While your staff are busy holding the ship steady, the innovator can assess new opportunities and initiate projects that will add to the current system that are working. In opposition to this, an entrepreneur has the ability and tendency to break some of the systems that are working.

By its very definition an entrepreneur is “a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit”. The pressure for the entrepreneur is that they must consider the impact on the business with every idea they have. To mitigate against this risk they listen to their finance experts, talk to their project managers and have meetings with HR specialists to hire people that will help them avoid sinking the ship in the future.

If you want to have your cake and eat it you need to be hiring innovators to work alongside your core team in each department. Most start ups that I meet that are scaling quickly and achieving good growth numbers have invested in innovators. “An innovator is a person who introduces new methods, ideas, or products”. Without innovators you will struggle to differentiate your products and services from the competition. Without innovators you will be stuck with a team that cares only about managing expectations.

How to Motivate an Innovator

  • Don’t dictate – Allow creative staff and innovators a level of autonomy where they aren’t confined to strict plans and objectives. You will never know what your Chief Innovator is capable of if you set the bar too low or stick to objectives that only attach themselves to one of many company goals. Give them tasks and set them goals but never micro-manage.
  • Be Flexible – Ensure that they have room to be flexible within their job remit and activities. By applying critical thinking, creativity and the freedom of imagination to each department you are allowing your innovator to shine and work their magic.
  • Reward Innovation – Use non-monetary praise and creative incentives to motivate creative work. Also, demonstrate how innovation is being used across the company and the results of each innovative strategy employed within the organisation.
  • Team Support – Make sure that the team around them have the technical and organisational skills required to implement ideas effectively.
  • Set a Challenge – Challenge them and push them out of their comfort zones. As long as innovators have the right supports around them, they will flourish in a challenging environment. One way to do this is to purposely over complicate a task or product and ask them to simplify it.
  • Encourage productivity – Applying a certain amount of pressure can help when it comes to driving creativity within an organisation. A lack of motivation can develop when there is no pressure applied to a project. This tip for motivating innovators is all about balance. You don’t want to push them over the edge but don’t be afraid of setting some objectives and standards.
  • Listen Carefully – There is a common myth that only narcissists with massive egos can become leaders. Yes, narcissists can become business owners and like to be in power but a narcissist can fail to bring about the creativity and change needed for a business to strive and survive in a competitive environment. Learn to be a good listener here.

Hire a Group of Innovators

If you work with the right creative agency you may find yourself working alongside a group of innovators. We don’t like to blow our own trumpets but we have pulled a few clever creatives out of the bag. Get in touch with us to learn more about adding innovative marketing processes and strategies to your business.