Does a "Chief Innovation Officer" Inspire Your Team?

Updated: May 19, 2010

What does the CIO do? He or she . . .

1. Shows support from the top. Ideally, this position is held by the organization's chief executive or president -- someone who leads by example and "walks the talk." Alternatively, and in a larger organization, he or she may be a "Crown Prince" -- someone hand-picked by the executive leadership to oversee the task of inspiring greatness from within the team. It's important that if the CIO is not the CEO or president, that he or she has the blessing of the senior executive. Otherwise, his or her ideas, inspirations or suggestions might be rebuffed.

2. Communicates Overarching Goals and Progress. The imperative should be to overcommunicate and under-promise. Such communication keeps the organization focused on the vision, successes and failures.

3. Builds a "Communication Corridor." This practice of two-way traffic enables ideas to flow freely for equal consideration and sharing throughout a trusting enterprise. The open-door policy gives every participant a voice and motivation to say what needs to be said -- even if they believe the project at hand is a losing proposition. Fear of retribution should never discourage people from speaking their minds.

4. Connects the Silos. Better yet, he or she demolishes them. Knock down the barriers that keep silos apart by creating cross-functional teams.

5. Commissions Cross-Group Stakeholders. These "champions across projects" should have the authority and budgets to test, learn and lead multiple groups through the process and assure ownership across groups is achieved. Bullies need not apply. These champions should encourage buy-in so innovation isn't stymied or blocked.

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