Chief Innovation Officer: Your Role in Spearheading Innovation

In a rapidly changing business landscape, it is clear that corporate innovation efforts need to change. According to research, only 6% of CEOs are happy with their organization's level of innovation, while 84% see it as crucial for growth. This points to a significant gap between what people perceive as important and what is actually being done in corporate innovation.

While improving the situation requires a company-wide approach, the Chief Innovation Officer, often abbreviated to CIO or CInO, has a major role to play in spearheading transformation and steering the company towards innovation success.

But what exactly is the role of a CIO? How can they foster and shape a culture of innovation throughout their company? What tools do modern CIOs need to make their companies industry leaders in innovation? Delve into this article to discover how CIOs can become invaluable to their companies in leading innovation efforts.


What is the role of a Chief Innovation Officer?

The main purpose of a Chief Innovation Officer involves creating a movement for change and innovation within a company. It is defined as "a critical role that orchestrates the innovation function and empowers the company to discover opportunities, experiment fast and make the right calls for taking high-potential, validated products and services to the market."

While the role wasn’t introduced until the turn of the century, it has evolved into one of the most important senior roles in modern business, with approximately 30% of Fortune 500 companies having a dedicated CIO.

The everyday tasks and responsibilities of this role include identifying and evaluating new opportunities, managing the innovation funnel and expanding innovation capabilities, as well as keeping leadership and management aligned on innovation prospects.


How can a CIO spearhead innovation in modern business landscapes?

While the role is relatively new, it has seen a significant shift in recent years. Originally, the main focus was on the CIO being an "innovation master". This has since become much more intricate and involved to setting up the right tools and strategies and assessing upcoming opportunities in both quantitative and qualitative ways.

A Chief Information Officer (CIO) plays a crucial role in driving business innovation within an organization. To proactively propel business innovation, a CIO needs to adopt a strategic approach and leverage technology effectively, as well as foster a culture of innovation within the organization, by encouraging employees to think creatively, take risks, and embrace new ideas.

Here are five strategies that CIOs can implement to guarantee a successful innovation approach across the entire organization.


1. Support a company-wide approach

A skilled CIO will aim to distance themselves from the traditional bureaucratic method of top-down innovation. Naturally, when more individuals are involved in the innovation process, the number of ideas generated will increase.

While 59% of company executives aren’t sure they have the right people with the right skills needed to deliver high-quality innovation, the truth is that employees in many companies feel unable to innovate and lack the opportunities to do so. It is crucial to remove barriers and give intrapreneurs freedom and authority to work independently. Additionally, it is important to cultivate an organizational culture that appreciates innovation and encourages it.

2. Invest in the right tools

Getting employees to innovate is important. However, it won't matter if the organization doesn't have the right mindset and support from everyone. Technology can play a significant role as innovation can become accessible to employees through the right tools.

Implementing a dedicated innovation program assists employees in developing and testing their ideas. It does this by using data, monitoring progress, and following a structured approach that aligns with the company's overarching strategy and goals.

3. Build a tolerance to failure

Innovation is a complex and dynamic process that involves taking risks, exploring new ideas, and pushing boundaries. Failures occurring along the way are not uncommon. In fact, failure is an integral part of the innovation process and can facilitate iterative processes that allow for necessary adjustments to innovations.

When employees face failures in innovation, they should see them as chances to grow and get better. Innovation leaders can promote a culture of learning from mistakes and create a safe environment for employees to make mistakes and see these as opportunities instead of set-backs.

4. Encourage creative thinking 

It's not a novel concept that innovation necessitates creative thinking and an open mind not subjected to any unnecessary pressures. Still, CIOs must lead the way in getting employees to "take the plunge" and pursue their novel ideas.

Whether it’s actively creating feedback and suggestion platforms or running focus groups, getting employees from all corners of the business to participate is crucial. Even when their ideas aren’t the right fit, they’ll often spark ideas from other employees. 

5. Celebrate best practices

In order to motivate employees to continue their excellent work, it is crucial for the CIO to applaud achievements and showcase best practices. This recognition will serve as a source of encouragement and inspiration for the entire team. This means supporting sustainable innovation, recognizing ideas and efforts with patents, and acknowledging all steps to success rather than just the "big idea".


Appointing a Chief Innovation Officer is essential for companies that want to prioritize innovation and foster a culture of creativity, adaptability, and forward-thinking. With their strategic approach, knowledge of current trends, and ability to create a collaborative environment, a CIO can lead the innovation efforts of a company and steer it towards success in today's dynamic business landscape.


A dedicated Chief Innovation Officer also needs the right tools to enable them to take innovation to the next level. See how rready's innovation tools can be used to get ahead, by contacting us to arrange a full demo.

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