I pondered on this question and decided to reach out to some of my friends at Psion, a leader on rugged mobile computing solutions.
Their CEO is John Conoley. He joined Psion in 2008 and he decided early on that open innovation was the way forward for Psion. He does a great job of sharing insights seen from the executive perspective on their efforts and one of his tools is to write frequently on his own blog.
I am impressed by his approach and I have enjoyed my interactions with him so I looked forward to the responses from my Psion friends on the above question. This is how they replied:
- Ability to balance the “here and now” (quarterly focus on revenue, P&L etc) with the longer term view of differentiation and leadership. The two rarely align, and it is a unique skill set to see both sides of the equation and balance accordingly. Too short term a focus, and the company suffers (maybe even dies in long term). Too long term, and short term issues could kill the ability to financially drive the longer term innovations.
- Relatable. John is far removed from a stuffy, aloof executive. His personable, down to earth nature is able to win over people outside the business, but perhaps more importantly, people inside the business… This is important to help sell such a dramatic shift as incorporating open innovation into the fabric of our business.
- Does not micro-manage – he wants employees to step up to the plate to drive change and he will give the freedom and empowerment to really do so along with the patience required for cultural change.
- Willing to make the hard calls – John does not waffle. If a decision needs to be made, he’ll do it. Period. A less glamorous, but important part of change management.
- Good communicator. This is rare. But, John has an ability to tell stories that make the point about the issue he’s focused on.
Psion guys, thanks for sharing these great comments!
What do you think of this? Can you add other insights on what makes a CEO good for innovation?
Stefan Lindegaard is a speaker, network facilitator and strategic advisor who focus on the topics of open innovation, intrapreneurship and how to identify and develop the people who drive innovation