Why Chief Innovation Officers Must Bridge The Collaboration Gap
In The Effective Executive, Peter F. Drucker wrote: “Effective executives find themselves asking other people in their organization, their superiors, their subordinates, but above all their colleagues in other areas: ‘What contribution from me do you require to make your contribution to the organization? When do you need this, how do you need it, and in what form?”
This quote still rings true amid the rise of the Chief Innovation Officer.
Just as new technologies have disrupted the enterprise and created the roles of Chief Technology and Chief Information Officer, the C-suite is poised for continued expansion this year with the emergence of the Chief Innovation Officer.
Companies such as IBM and Fujitsu are already leading the charge with innovation roles dedicated to bringing new ideas to life and changing the way people work, create, and communicate. These will be the adoptive leaders of new technologies and processes, enhancing innovation with internal, and external, teams and partners.
With empowered Chief Innovation Officers, large organizations recognize that successful innovation is more and more complex to achieve and require an all-encompassing approach including people, technology and collaboration.
Chief Innovation Officers are in the news. The impetus for big business to give innovation a seat at the C-level table has now reached even the most traditional industries. Nordstrom announced it had created the position of Chief Innovation Officer, tasked with the mission to deploy digital tech to boost sagging sales at this venerable retailer. DP World elevated its VP of Innovation position into a full-blown CINO role. When the staunchly old-fashioned world of managing marine ports is adopting the CINO model, you can bet the title is here to stay.
This sea-change towards a CINO in every boardroom makes perfect sense.
With consumer needs changing faster than ever, the usual product-to-market cycle of 12 to 36 months often exceeds the time in which a given product innovation remains relevant. The dynamics of business are now so complex that significant ROA rarely arises from a “eureka” moment in a single head or an isolated division.
Improving one part of the ever-changing mechanism that is your enterprise is unlikely to succeed without understanding the impact on the many connected cogs. How do you move faster when the essential assets for innovation— your people and data—are increasingly distributed across geographies, networks, and devices? In DP World's case, 37,000 workers across 40 countries have exponentially more logistical data to consider.
Thus the success of innovation within large organizations has been—and remains—consistently low. Depending on the industry, up to 49% now fail, according to George Castillon, writing in The Journal of Product Innovation & Management in 2013.
We believe you’ll see a way forward in “The PwC Innovation Space” sidebar.
The New York Times has described innovation as “the crucial ingredient in all economic progress—higher growth for nations, more competitive products for companies, and more prosperous careers for individuals.”
On the topic of commitment to contribution, Peter F. Drucker also wrote: “Executives in an organization do not have good human relations because they have a ‘talent for people.’ They have good human relations because they focus on contribution in their own work and their relationships with others. As a result, their relationships are productive – and this is the only valid definition of ‘good human relations.”
It’s no surprise that we’re seeing more and more Chief Innovation Officers, just as the rise of Chief Information Officers and Chief Technology Officers seemed inevitable 15 years ago. The new CINO role is required to stimulate and foster collaboration between teams and individuals so that they can innovate together.
Putting This Into Practice: The PwC Innovation Space
Floor-to-ceiling windows in PwC's Delta Room admit subdued light from a pastoral setting to a colorful fireside. As the name implies, it is a space for driving change.
This is no ordinary conference room. It immerses collaborators in content and data on multiple large screens. Streaming video, whiteboard sketches, and presentations can be rearranged easily via gesture, touch, and personal devices. The space allows remote users to collaborate on the editing, annotation, and addition of new content in real-time. All of this can happen simultaneously, giving unfettered control to multiple collaborators sharing the space together at the same time.
PwC Chief Digital Officer Gabrielle Mendes says the immersive experience of infopresence engages collaborators better than any technology she has seen. "The room makes people feel emotions. They become so deeply involved and committed.”
The seamless viewing and nonlinear manipulation of many information assets at once “completely disrupts the paradigm we've been living with for 20 years,” says Mandeep Jawa, director of workplace technologies at Strategy& (the global strategic consulting arm of PwC). “No more gymnastics.”
“The value is not coming anymore from a single flow of information,” says Mohssen Toumi, partner and digital transformation leader at Strategy&. He views an approach like the Delta Room as necessary for transformational leaps “because how can you think disruptively if you use the same methods you used before?”
“It pulls us into the innovation space,” says Raphael Helion, the CIO of PwC France.
The Delta Room—by linking locations, teams, content, and devices with immersive sharing—is speeding PwC’s journey from point A to the desired point B.
For CINO’s, this underlying technology, which draws from multiple systems and applications to help teams collaborate in a fluid and parallel way, can help achieve cross-disciplinary, data-driven global innovation.
Recommended reading: Peter F. Drucker’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship, 1985, the seminal work on making innovation happen. Drucker uses mini-case studies, examples and illustrations, both of the right and wrong innovation policies and practices.
David Kung is responsible for Oblong’s product roadmap and strategy. Prior to Oblong, David served as VP, Creative Director at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Online. At Creative Artists Agency, he specialized in emerging technology for clients including Coca-Cola, Sprint, and Hasbro. Previously, David developed enhanced television programs as a Disney Imagineer and was a design lead with Art Technology Group. He holds degrees from MIT's School of Architecture and the MIT Media Lab.