What is an Innovation Leader? Three Definitions

By Scott Kirsner |  August 22, 2018

When people talk about innovation leaders, there are three definitions:

1. As an individual: An innovation leader inside a company can have many different titles. They may be a Chief Innovation Officer, a Director of New Ventures, a VP of Research & Development, a Senior Director of Corporate Development, or part of the CIO’s, CTO’s, or CMO’s organization. But at the core, they are responsible for tasks like monitoring market trends and creating technology or product roadmaps; connecting with current and prospective customers to understand their needs; developing new technology components and platforms; building prototypes of new offerings; testing them; and ideally, rolling them out to the market, often with the support of existing business units or other functions.

In most cases, though, innovation leaders are responsible for delivering new growth to the organization. To learn more about the innovation leader role and how companies define it, you may want to consult our collection of job descriptions from different industries, or current job listings on our job board.

2. As a company: Companies that are the innovation leader in their industry tend to grow faster than their peers. But other benefits go beyond revenue, margin, and stock price. They include things like media attention; attracting the best talent; becoming the “partner of choice” for startups, distributors, suppliers; company morale and employee retention; permission to innovate more broadly and enter new markets. For more, see our slide presentation, “Why Innovation Should Be a Priority.”

3. InnoLead, the membership community: That would be us. We are a community of innovation leaders inside established companies, all of them seeking to make change happen. We have a team of people who publish case studies, research reports, and a print magazine, all covering topics that innovation leaders care about; create and curate resources useful to innovation leaders; and put on the best in-person and virtual events focused on delivering growth and changing culture inside big organizations. More about what we do here, as well as info on how to join.