You need to talk change as if you were the Chief Financial Officer!

Posted on February 3, 2011


To be understood; Chief Innovation Officers should present their innovation initiatives in a hard-core operational manner!

I acknowledged this when attending a splendid lecture about leadership and innovation last week. During the session I reflected about the statement, “Chief Innovations Officers have a tough job convincing the CEO and other top officers in the company about innovation initiatives!” The statement was presented in the context of the financial crisis and some examples were delivered about Chief Innovations Officers that had been fired and innovation departments closed.

My conclusion was derived from the following thoughts:

– All businesses are about making a profit; a profit greater each year.
– Constructing new can seriously level your profit which is why operational minded leaders need the change mindset too. The problem is they have a hard time understanding it. (Just as change minded persons have a hard time understanding operational mindset)

In other words, the hard-core operational discourse dominates all businesses. The discourse is characterized by a positivistic and very practical approach to reality. Values are numbers, structure and systems that support control.

In order to reach in and sort of “balance” operational and change discourse, the Chief Innovation Officer, employees and chiefs from “less operational departments (human resource and organizational development) must learn to speak the operational language. If they do not, they will have less to none impact on decision-making processes within the company.

On the other hand, traditional operational chief officers could help the company (and themselves) trying to understand some of the many change discourses.

I think a more balanced approach (both operational and change) will support a higher and more strategic profit earning.

In a time where change happens al the time and at a faster pace, the ability to create new products are imperative to be at the front of the market and keep up profits.