2 Key Functions of a Chief Innovation Officer

chief innovation officer

In the ever-evolving corporate landscape, the role of a Chief Innovation Officer (CINO) has emerged as pivotal in steering companies towards growth and sustainability. This executive, often seen as the harbinger of change, carries the responsibility of infusing innovation into the company’s DNA. Drawing on insights from Tony Ulwick and the narrative around modern innovation strategies, let’s delve into the multifaceted functions of a Chief Innovation Officer.

The Dual Mandate of Innovation

At the heart of the CINO’s role lies a dual mandate: to safeguard and augment existing revenue streams while simultaneously scouting for and cultivating new ones. This approach demands a blend of strategic foresight and tactical prowess, ensuring the company remains competitive and relevant.

1. Nurturing Current Markets

The first prong of the strategy focuses on the company’s current markets. Here, the CINO is tasked with enhancing and refining existing products and services. This involves implementing cutting-edge innovation processes and tools that move beyond traditional methodologies, which historically have a high failure rate. With more than 80% of new products failing to make their mark, the CINO’s role in adopting and institutionalizing new, more successful methods cannot be overstated.

2. Exploring New Opportunities

Conversely, the exploration of new market opportunities constitutes the second prong. This aspect requires the CINO to identify and prioritize investment in areas that promise new revenue streams and the potential to disrupt declining product lines. Whether through internal development, mergers and acquisitions, or joint ventures, the CINO is instrumental in charting the course for the company’s future growth.

Leveraging Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD)

A cornerstone of the CINO’s strategy involves understanding the “jobs” that customers struggle to accomplish with current market offerings. These unmet needs, especially those deemed highly important by customers, are ripe for innovation. By applying the JTBD framework, the CINO helps the company pinpoint these opportunities, assess potential market sizes, and evaluate the economic impact of innovations that significantly boost customer satisfaction.

The Growth Metric

A chief innovation officer’s effectiveness is measured not just by the implementation of new processes but also by tangible outcomes in revenue growth and equity value. This metric underscores the CINO’s role in not just fostering innovation but also ensuring that it translates into financial success for the company.


The Chief Innovation Officer stands at the crossroads of tradition and transformation. He plays a critical role in ensuring a company’s relevance and competitiveness in the digital age. He has to balance the nurturing of existing markets with the pursuit of new ones. By leveraging the Jobs-to-be-Done framework, the CINO is uniquely positioned to propel the company toward sustained growth and innovation. Companies are increasingly recognizing the value of innovation in driving growth. The CINO’s role will undoubtedly become more central and influential in shaping the future of businesses across industries.