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Innovation Executives: Who NOT to Put in Charge

By Michael Glessner

I just hung up from a call with a colleague in which we were planning how to bring up a difficult topic at tomorrow’s client meeting regarding innovation. It is surprising how often this situation occurs in consulting work. This time the root of the situation may be traced to an observation Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble made in their book The Other Side of Innovation, regarding the characteristics of successful innovation executives.

Many executives responsible for innovation have worked their way through both product development and operations jobs. They were likely viewed as successful in their previous positions, often due to the results they created. Over the years this success has fed on itself and they now identify with and successfully drive toward results in all their assignments.

On the surface, this sounds like a great person to lead innovation. But in reality, this is one of the last people you want responsible for innovation efforts within your company. Managing innovation effectively is a different game than managing typical business operations.

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