Peter High was recently featured in an article published by Canadian Business, a business news trade publication that covered innovative ideas on how to “kick-start” the Canadian economy.
Published May 2013 by Canadian Business
Excerpt from the Article:
- Hire a Chief Innovation Officer
Corporate innovation can sometimes seem like a contradiction in terms. Maybe that’s why so many have long scoffed at the idea of a “chief innovation officer.” A single C-suite executive guiding innovation from the top down, after all, just seems to go against so much of what we know about how creativity works. But when you break “innovation” down to what it really means in a corporate setting—essentially, finding new ways to make money—it can start to seem like a much better idea to have someone in charge of that process.
Worldwide, the number of companies with CIOs is growing fast. The percentage of those surveyed for the annual Capgemini Consulting Innovation Leadership Study with an executive in charge of innovation climbed from 33% to 43% between 2011 and 2012. And all those CIOs are getting results. The Capgemini survey ranks corporations on an innovation scale from “laggard” to “leader.” Fully 59% of those in the leader category in 2012 had a formally accountable executive for innovation; only 28% of those in the laggards did.
So how does Canada stack up? It’s hard to say. No one keeps track of how many Canadian companies have adopted CIOs. But anecdotally, Canadians seem to be well behind the United States in that regard. And according to those who study the field, we’re likely missing out.
Peter High, the president of Metis Strategy, a U.S. consultancy, believes there is genuine value in vesting responsibility for innovation in a single executive. High understands the argument that innovation should be everyone’s job. But in his experience, when everyone is supposed to innovate, what usually happens is that nobody does. “If you don’t have somebody who is keeping score, it is very easy for all of those people who have it as one of many goals to do the easy stuff first,” he says.
That’s where the CIO can come in. Terry Stuart became Deloitte Canada’s first CIO just over a year ago. Since then, he’s worked on both driving new processes and new products within Deloitte, as well as helping external customers do the same. He sees his job as part cheerleader, part instigator and part facilitator. At the same time, he knows his work can’t be just slogans and pep talks. “It has to be real and market-relevant,” he says. “I have a real target of creating $100 million in incremental revenue by 2015—per year.”
Stuart doesn’t think every company necessarily needs a chief innovation officer, at least not full-time. (He has other duties at Deloitte.) “You have to fit the organizational construct.…So what might make sense for a large bank might not make sense for the government or for a larger retailer.” The important thing, he believes, is to have a formal innovation plan and to have one person accountable for it. In the end, what matters more is how that person does the job—not what the title is. – Richard Warnica