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Why 2018 Was the Year of the Innovation Manager

The Year of the Innovation X

Innovation is finally getting the dedication it deserves in corporations.

Until recently, innovation-minded leaders prone to chasing new horizons were typically trusted with making a company its first million or ten, but scaling the company further meant sticking to small iterative changes that present very little risk.

2018 is the year that a movement of large companies across industries committed themselves to innovation.

In 2018, Chief Information Officer and Chief Technology Officer gave way to a new breed of executive: The Innovation X Click To Tweet

The traditional roles of Chief Information Officer and Chief Technology Officer gave way to a new breed of executive: The Innovation X.

Companies rolled out dedicated positions like Head of Innovation, Innovation Director, Chief Innovation Officer (CINO), etc. whose responsibilities revolve around forecasting, planning, and implementing innovation initiatives to move the company forward.

Let’s dive into why this shift happened, and what it means for corporate innovation in 2019.

Overcoming the Innovation Paradox

On one hand, corporate boards and management teams can be reluctant to fund innovation efforts because they see it as taking a chance.

There is an element of uncertainty in any innovation initiative because the team is looking in new directions and often working with new partners, such as when they are running proof-of-concepts with external technologies.

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As a result, some companies underfund their innovation programs. However, withholding resources from a dedicated innovation program gets in the way of progress. This mindset seems to have finally broken in 2018.

Dedicating resources to innovation breeds more innovation

As more businesses embrace the idea of innovation executives, the notion of a well rounded and capable innovation team has become more accepted at every level of management.

Enterprises have begun to realize that it isn’t how much the company invests in innovation that is important, but how it cultivates their innovation efforts.

Making Innovation a Priority

The lesson learned from the list of retail brands that went bankrupt in 2018 is loud and clear: disruption and innovation cannot be taken lightly.

Companies have come to grips with the fact that staying the course and refusing to adapt to changing market demands for digital transformation can easily take down even a beloved company like Toys “R” Us.

Bringing people together

Battling complacency and riling up a sense of innovation urgency is one of the main roles of these new innovation executives.

In addition to spearheading paradigm-shifting projects that can drastically change the business for the better, they need to be able to convince the decision makers and the various stakeholders across the company.

Market trends are continuously evolving with the rapid pace of technological change. Chief Innovation Officers and similar innovation management roles are the link that bring the disparate interests of various departments together, which could put a damper on innovation if left unchecked.

Continuing Beyond the Trend

Companies that take innovation seriously will reap the benefits through their adaptability and longevity.

Innovation has long-term impacts such as shaping the way people work and live, and transforming entire markets.

When the stakes are that high, giving an innovation expert a seat at the executive table is the only logical choice.

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