Focus on Innovation

Of late I’ve been getting a lot of question about my role at Unique World as Head of Innovation? Many customers, partners and even internal staff are rather confused by the title and don’t understand the purpose and effect of innovation on the marketplace or the Unique World business as a whole.So what is the purpose of a Head of Innovation in a smaller enterprise like Unique World, well our executive and board have identified innovation as one of the key paths to fuel geometric growth in our business. And have decided to use Innovation to drive change in our offering to our clients and the internal team (both within our consulting services and software products).

It’s my role to work with all parts of the internal business and our strategic partners and customers to generate and govern innovation. Beyond just the governance it’s also my role to build an innovation culture and as a direct result the wanting to do thing smarter through innovation.Russell Reynols and associates (who are regarded as leaders in this arena) define the skills needed for the role as such:

Innovative Thinking: This person is known as a visionary and can demonstrate that he or she has predicted and acted on consumer/customer/client trends, getting others to believe and follow. He or she is known as a creative thinker who is willing to challenge the status quo but also learns from the past. He or she uses fact-based analyses but is not paralyzed by too much data (or not enough). This person is known for taking a well-reasoned stand and is decisive in terms of moving forward on a proposal.

Strong Business Acumen: The innovation leader has developed new businesses, products or services with the bottom line in mind. He or she has a record of sound fiscal management and has strong analytical capabilities. He or she has a balanced approach to revenue generation, operating cost management and bottom-line delivery.

Strategic Marketing Acumen: This person has the ability to develop and implement a marketing plan, driving actions from a comprehensive understanding of customer and consumer needs, then providing concise direction to the organization to develop profitable solutions. Underpinning this is a record of systematic and analytical approaches toward situation analysis evaluation and the development of specific programs that maintain a perspective on long-term goals while attaining short-term objectives.

Deal/Alliance/Relationship Skills: This person has not been constrained by resource limitations and can economically determine “buy/rent” decisions. He or she has forged significant business partnerships through strategic alliances, joint ventures or other forms that are mutually beneficial. He or she has a strategic network that can be leveraged.

Global Perspective: The innovation leader has the ability to quickly envision or grasp ideas found in the global and local marketplace. Acting with a sense of urgency, this person demonstrates a predisposition toward action, while evaluating programs in a small market environment with low economic risk.

Communication Skills: Finally, he or she must be a keen listener, be perceived as open minded and have strong interpersonal skills so that the necessary alliances with internal and external groups can be forged and developed quickly. This person must be comfortable interacting both formally and informally with senior executives and communicating openly and equitably with peers and subordinates throughout the organization.

I know I have not yet developed all of these skills, but I am keen to develop them quickly so I can be effective as possible in the role. It certainly is very exciting.In my next post I’m going to let you in on what the innovation processes has been cooking up at Unique World and how we’ve started to innovate within our core business.

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