As the competency of corporate innovation continues to expand and improve, more Chief Innovation Officer roles are appearing in large, corporate organizations. This is a welcome development and recognition of the ongoing value that leadership sees innovation efforts delivering for organizations. This recognition is demonstrated by the focus on the CInO role by several conferences, including The Back End of Innovation in Las Vegas on October 6-8.

I have been reading a lot about the CInO role lately and recently spoke with Luis Solis, the author of a book titled “Innovation Alchemists: What Every CEO Should Know to Hire the Right Chief Innovation Officer” to get his perspectives on the CInO role in the context of this value generation.

What changes have you seen with the CInO role recently?

As the CInO role continues to evolve and develop, one significant change is that the previous focus on process and activity is being augmented with a serious and deep scouting function. That includes scouting for technologies, trends, and cultural insights. This means that the role is expanding into other more established corporate functions, such as Competitive Intelligence, Strategy, and HR, so these CInO’s need to better manage and shape relationships across the organization, often where there may be competing interests. More than ever, it’s a delicate balancing act.

There is also more focus on impacting the culture of an organization as a precondition for success, but not only that, it is viewed that the CInO and resources may be a better catalyst for shifting the organization towards an innovative culture, perhaps more than what has been in place until now.

How do you see the role changing going forward?

Look, the reality is that the CInO is here to stay and it’s an expanding role. We are in a macro-economic recovery and this gives companies more confidence. So I think that this and next year will be a bumper crop of CInO roles becoming available. Unfortunately I don’t think that there is a body of future leaders to take that leading role, so there is a market opportunity for that pipeline to be filled.

I have heard you talk about the importance of employee innovation networks, so how does that connect back to the CInO role?

This goes back to maturity, because the current view is that innovation takes place at the BU level. What this approach misses is connecting the effect of those project teams for intelligence gathering, practice sharing, risk reduction, speed, etc. All the benefits that come from connecting networks are missed, or at least more difficult to generate with discrete teams. So organizations are anywhere above two years in their innovation journey are, or should be, looking for something that is better than the separate projects. Innovation networks are just the natural extension beyond that.
At a certain point, leaders recognize that this is more than just about an innovation department or program, but it is a set of capabilities spread across the organization. With that perspective, the innovation program becomes the enabler of systems behaviors, rituals, and ultimately about building and managing an enhanced culture.

What has surprised you about the book’s reception, now that it has been out for a few months?

The first thing that I learned was that there is an extraordinary amount of interest in this CInO role. Leaders want to know “What it is?” “How it should be designed and organized?” “Who is qualified to fill that role?”
What I had not expected to encounter is that most leaders are not asking “if” they should have a CInO, but now it’s “who do we use and when?” It’s just a given now that this role is essential to business leaders. To me that’s a pretty big change in the past couple of years.

What are the biggest risks or conflicts that CInO’s need to manage?

One of the key issues for CInO’s is that they are impacting leaders of Strategy, Marketing, Competitor Intelligence, Digital, and R&D functions in vary tangible ways. So, proper thought needs to be given to addressing the inevitable tensions that this new role generates. When designing this role, the CEO really does need to account for 2-4 years of their support, or it will be difficult to take route and grow. In my experience that has been a challenge, especially when a CEO rotates which can lead to a high rate of failure.

About the Author: Anthony is the CEO of Culturevate (, an organization that empowers a company’s employees to execute ideas and inspire a culture of innovation, through employee networks, a resource portal and training programs (developed in association with Professor Chris Labash from Carnegie Mellon University). Anthony is a widely read author (, speaker and advisor to industry leaders at organizations such as Pfizer, U.S. Postal Service, Johnson & Johnson, ADP and Fidelity. He previously led The BNY Mellon innovation program and has a Masters of Commerce (University of Sydney) and Bachelor of Economics (University of Newcastle).

If you had all the data in the world at your fingertips, what would you do to delight your customers?
- Andreas Weigend

Join Keynote Andreas Weigend, Former Chief Scientist, AMAZON and Director, SOCIAL DATA LAB - as he takes stage at (FT'14) Foresight and Trends Conference,  November 11 - 13 in Los Angeles, CA.  During his keynote-The New Consumer: Celebrating Individuals, Cultivating Relationships - Andreas discusses how the social data revolution impacts individuals, business, and society. As we move from a data-poor to a data-rich world, those who hold the questions trump those who hoard the data. 

Foresight & Trends 2014
November 11-13
SLS Hotel
Los Angeles, CA

Along with Andreas, FT'14  keynotes include:  

The Climate for Innovation
Mark Polson, Vice President, Marketing, Creativity & Innovation, Global Management

Organizational culture is difficult to change. By some measures, it can take nearly a generation, that can be up to seven to ten years. Creating the right climate for innovation is something that is much easier to accomplish to get faster results. This presentation will look at why companies need to innovate, what the difference is between climate and culture, how climate can be measured, and some best practices.

Structured To Get To "Yes"
Stuart Jenkins, VP Innovation, DECKERS

If innovation starts with "yes," why is everyone in the organization empowered to say "no"?  I believe that companies have a built-in structure which favors "no" and empowers nearly everyone to say "no." The real innovator's dilemma is building a leadership structure around innovation that balances the power and leans towards "yes."

Additional Keynotes Include:

Shifting Culture and Social Norms Through Media and Products
Miki and Radha Agrawal, Co-Founders and Co-CEO's, THINX and SUPER SPROWTZ

Street Food and Community Space
Brett Burmeister, Owner, Managing Editor, FOODCARTSPORTLAND.COM

And, many more!  

Download the brochure for full conference details:

Make sure to not miss The Off Site Kick-Off Cocktail Reception & Exploration Of Oblong Industries:  From Fiction to Reality: How the Technology Envisioned in "Minority Report" and "Iron Man" is Transforming Workplace Collaboration and Big Data Visualization- John Underkoffler, CEO, OBLONG INDUSTRIES.

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Foresight & Trends Team
Your brand is not determined by a logo. Your brand is what people perceive or feel when they consume your content or buy your products. Your brand strategy is created by your core products, your mission, and the target audience you are trying to reach.

According to Business2Community, here are six steps to creating a comprehensive brand strategy:

Strive for Emotional Connections
You have to connect emotionally with your audience beyond the sale.  Business owners should have the goal of inspiring an emotional connection in their audience and really try to understand your customers and what they want from your company. Once you understand their needs, you’ll be able to identify how to strike an emotional connection with your target market.

Nurture Connections
Think about the companies that treat both their customers and their employees well. Companies like Costco thrived even during the recession, because not only does the company appeal to both lower and higher income consumers, but it’s earned a great reputation for how well they treat their employees.

It Must Reinforce Your Brand’s Message
Specifically, on social media it is easy to assume that posting a humorous photo or video will engage your audience. However, instead of being engaged, your audience might just end up confused if it doesn’t fit your brand’s message.

Measure Your Efforts
You have to measure results, monitor your campaign’s effect, and determine whether or not your strategy was successful. If people aren’t responding like you’d planned, then your campaign needs a makeover. The ability to be flexible and evolve with new strategies is the key to long-term branding success.

Solve Specific Problems
If you own a restaurant that specializes in artisan-style pizza, you must go beyond just selling good pizza. Maybe you pair pizza with specialty craft beer? Maybe the pizza ingredients are organic and your pizza boxes can be recycled as lunch boxes? Whatever your company chooses to highlight, it has to be unique enough to make you stand out from the millions of other pizza sellers.

Don’t Be Afraid to Spy

You should be aware of what strengths your competitor has, especially if they happen to be your weaknesses. Be aware of their successes and failures, how they compare to your own, and what you can learn from them. 
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