Want to be an innovative leader? Spend some time in marketing.

In a recent Wired magazine article – Cancel your meetings – you need time to think – Rajesh Chandy from the London Business School, looked at the role of an organisation’s CEO in developing a focus on the future and driving innovation.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, he notes that the level of importance a CEO places on the future is a major predictor of an organisation’s success in innovating. Worryingly though, he also explains that most CEO’s spend relatively little time on planning the future, less than 3% in some cases!

Naturally not all CEOs are the same, and it would seem that previous career experience plays a significant role in an individual’s focus; those with backgrounds in R&D and Marketing are more likely to spend time planning for the future than those from past or present focused functions such as finance or operations.

The lessons seem clear; if you are a CEO, make sure you’re signalling the importance of innovation to the rest of your business by thinking, discussing and planning for the future. And, if you’re looking to become a CEO then make sure you spend time in those functional areas charged with thinking about the bigger picture and what’s  likely to be needed next like Marketing or R&D.

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