Do you know what the similarity is between a truffle and an innovation manager? They are both exclusive and therefore very hard to find. You will find it very difficult to find an innovation manager who is properly equipped with the skills to implement idea management software solutions, who can truly drive innovation within an organization. Managers like to call themselves innovators, but the reality is that very few of them really are. And, unfortunately, that spells trouble.

If your organization is looking for a new innovation manager, you probably have a person specification that asks for previous experience in innovation. However, there are some really good managers out there who have never yet realized that they are innovators, coming from a company culture in which innovation is not yet accepted. Anyone who was very successful in their previous role, and particularly in communication, HR, change management, or project management, should be considered for the position.

Top 5 Things to Look for in an Innovation Manager

When you start your recruitment process, take off the “previous experience required” from your essential list of skills, but make it clear that you are looking for an innovator. Once you get to the interviewing stage, here are the five key things that you should look for:

  1. They can make it easier for others to embrace the innovation process. A good innovation manager has innovated before, or at least would like to do it. But it is those who know how to get other people on board, who can rile them up to seek out opportunities, that are the ones that really create change. They know how to run experiments with consumers and how to encourage others to be open and honest.
  2. They have a lot of experience in project management. Every piece of innovation and change is a project, albeit one without an end. You cannot decentralize strategic innovation objectives. Everybody involved has to be accountable in terms of the objectives, the milestones, and the activities themselves. This is absolutely critical to the entire project.
  3. Find someone who can influence. Think James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke, who gets world-famous superstars to sing in the back of his taxi. That’s the type of influence you want to have, to get people to be ok with taking huge risks, while confronted with massive disruptions.
  4. Look for someone who can see red tape, but who can work around it regardless. There are systems and processes in place within your organization that are there for a reason. But they don’t necessarily work for innovation. This means you need someone who can play by the rules, but break them at the same time.
  5. Look for an individual who sees a problem as an opportunity to find a solution, someone who loves staring in the face of adversity. A good innovation manager can spot someone who wants to detract from the process, and mold them into the projects greatest advocate by the end of the day.


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