The Innovation Dance Floor is Getting Crowded | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

The innovation dance floor is getting awfully crowded with a lot of eager participants. CIOs want to re-establish their traditional role of custodian of technology driving innovation. CMOs wants to be at the forefront of using innovation to change the customer experience and outreach. Data scientists are using the new analytics tools and want to participate in innovation strategy. And as I blogged recently, an IBM study found even chief purchasing officers are making a bid to join the innovation party. Unfortunately, they’re all joining the product managers, who are historically in a slow dance; so not only is the dance floor getting more crowded, but there are also a lot of different beats that they’re dancing to.

Each of these positions has its own point of view, its own agenda, and sees innovation differently. On the plus side, this provides for a rich mix of opportunity. But on the downside, few innovative ideas have come out of committees.

The IBM study indicates that CPOs are attempting to become more strategic and influential and they believe they are more critical to the enterprise. So by necessity, they have to better align with the corporate strategy and therefore want to participate in developing strategy.

I think it opens up even bigger questions:

  • In what areas will they seek to set strategy?
  • Do CPOs have the right background and perspective to do this?

Particularly in the area of services, which are an important ingredient to a change strategy and require deep understanding of the business and how to shape or manipulate the components to create a differentiated position as an advantage, CPOs may struggle as the champions of change.

Enterprises need to protect the innovation strategy

My view is that CPOs are not the right people to influence innovation. Their idea of innovation is do it at half the price rather than doing something different. A data scientist, for example, can get at a certain kind of innovation because they bring a fresh, different capability to the table. I don’t see purchasing bringing something fresh and different.

So this poses some very significant questions to the enterprise:

  • How do you allow for innovation?
  • Who do you want driving it?
  • How do you protect innovation from amateurs who may not be helpful?

Problems for service providers

With purchasing and other departments trying to crowd onto the innovation dance floor, service providers wanting to bring new innovative ideas or capabilities will have to navigate a gauntlet of powerful stakeholder groups. It certainly makes for an intriguing tango.


Photo credit: Piotr Pazola

Have a question?

Please let us know how we can help you.

Contact us

Email us

How can we engage?

Please let us know how we can help you on your journey.