The CEO As “Innovator-In-Chief”

The surest sign of likely success in the out-of-the-box change game, in my experience, is a chief executive officer (CEO) who is passionately committed to playing – and well prepared to play – what I call the Innovator-in-Chief role.  CEOs who excel at the Innovator-in-Chief role first and foremost make accomplishing out-of-the-box change a top-tier chief executive leadership priority.  They also bring to the out-of-the-box change game  substantial technical planning know-how, strong psychological and political skills, a large dollop of discipline and courage, and the internal stature to lead the change charge.  . . .

The CEO is the only person in your organization who can wear the Innovator-in-Chief hat for the simple reason that no one else brings to the change game the formal authority, influence, access to resources, and time required to spearhead an out-of-the-box change effort and to overcome the inevitable inertia and resistance that can sink a change ship early in its voyage.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that out-of-the-box change is just a top-down process or that your CEO could get the change job done on his own.  Of course not!  Without the backing of his board your CEO couldn’t possibly succeed in the Innovator-in-Chief role.  And it’s obvious that the bulk of the nuts and bolts work of planning and developing out-of-the-box change initiatives must be done by staff and volunteers.  But the fact remains:  Without a committed, capable Innovator-in-Chief ensconced in the chief executive suite, out-of-the-box change will almost certainly be the impossible dream.

Excerpt from Doug Eadie’s forthcoming Leading Out-Of-The-Box Change:  The Chief Executive’s Essential Guide To Achieving Nonprofit Innovation and Growth.  ©Governance Edge Publishing  All rights reserved

Doug Eadie