VP Innovation

I have seen this title more lately than ever before… who fills these positions? And is Innovation, best orchestrated by Design ? R&D? Marketing? Other?

well, I’ll say it again…

Innovation is the current business world jargon. 10 years from now it will be something else. Companies regularly revolve their mid and senior managers, partially appointing / rewarding them with new titles. Same or similar job, different person. I have seen exisiting marketing, engineering or new product development managers sporting new title of Innovation…

Best innovation’s I’ve seen have come via marketing professionals learning or noticing something while in extensive visits with customers.

Today I think it’s largely marketers and strategists.

Corporations will first try to fill these positions from within, but fail to see results. Then they’ll look for specialists and find them at business consultants. Once in place, they’ll initiate a proprietary “innovation process” which will fill the hopper with marketable concepts. But then they’ll struggle as they realize that the hard part isn’t the hopper, it’s the company’s ability to process these innovations. The inevitable log-jam will effectively put the VP out of business. It may also result in the company “stalling” as it constantly reassesses it’s portfolio of products, replacing low-value concepts with new higher-value concepts. During all of this, the company’ patience will be tested, particularly if they’re failing to generate immediate shareholder value.

Not all innovation is design-related, market-related, or technology-related, so I don’t think the Ideal Innovation-Leader needs to come from any of these disciplines. Instead they should have a set of character traits, and experience. I’d look for Altruism, Optimism, Team-Building and Entreprenurism.

great point.

If you haven’t already seen it check out “The 12 different ways for companies to inovate” article. MIT Sloan Management Review. (Sring 2006) By 3 Northwestern professors Sawhney.Wolcott and Arroniz. Amazing article with an indepth view of your last observation.


Thanks Mark, I just bought a copy of the article. Looks great.
Very similar to Doblin’s “10 types of innovation!”