New Chief Innovation Officers need to establish themselves into their role quickly, take stock of the current environment, articulate the imperative for improvement, and acquire the charter from leadership to transform the innovation capabilities of the organization. The job is difficult in all cases, without a clear charge from the top, it may prove impossible.
The charter spells out the imperative, objectives, scope, timeline, resource and budget requirements, and governance structure for the innovation transformation. The best charters are bold and broad. They address needed changes in innovation strategy, funding, investment allocation, decision making, incentive systems, organizational structures, business processes, skills and competencies, and supporting information systems. Transformation requires that you pull all the levers.
The process of acquiring a charter will tell you much about the organization’s appetite for change. The most successful innovation executives employ a combination of a deficit-based approach (here are all the things that are wrong today) with a vision-based approach (think how amazing we could be in the future). Getting executive alignment on a problem statement and clear vision of potential takes time, but is a step worth taking. You don’t want to volunteer to lead the “Charge of the Light Brigade.”
With a charter in hand, the Chief Innovation Officer can begin to draft a transformation roadmap and build a coalition of functional and business unit executives to help lead the initiative. This is a “go slow, to go fast” approach. Taking the time to lay a strong foundation and acquire a charter may feel like wasted effort, but it will pay off in the long run.