Owning Innovation

This past weekend I read a short summary of a new book titled Innovation Governance: How Top Management Organizes and Mobilizes for Innovation. You can read the summary on Scott Kirsner’s Innovation Leader website. I look forward to digging into the book itself, but the governance models laid out in the summary are worth a comment.

The book’s authors identify eight major innovation governance models and rate the level of satisfaction with each model by quantifying the percentage of people that said they were relatively or very satisfied with the structure. The eight models are:

  1. The Chief Technology Officer or Chief Research Officer is the ultimate innovation champion (70%)
  2. A high-level, cross-functional innovation steering committee owns innovation governance (65%)
  3. The top management team (or a subset of that team) owns innovation in the company (58%)
  4. A complementary two-person team with a C-level executive other than the CEO (57%)
  5. The CEO or, in multi-business corporations, a group or division president runs innovation (56%)
  6.  A group of informal “innovation champions” or “intrapreneurs” champion innovation (40%)
  7. A dedicated innovation manager or a Chief Innovation Officer is ultimately responsible (35%)
  8. No one (or everyone) is in charge of governing the innovation function of the company (0%)

While these percentages reflect the authors’ satisfaction scores with each model, I believe that there is a familiarity factor at work in these numbers. The top management team model is the most widely used model while the Chief Innovation Officer structure scores quite low.

The Chief Innovation Officer concept is still being refined. We need more of them to take the lead in governing innovation. CTOs, CROs, CEOs, Business Unit Presidents, and other top executives are all too busy to properly invest the time required to drive growth from innovation. Each of the models outlined above can work, but each would be greatly enhanced with a dedicated Chief Innovation Officer that focused on both content and process while bridging the gap between commercial and technical functions. With more experience and adoption the satisfaction scores for that model will increase.