Innovation Leaders

How Senior Executives Stimulate, Steer and Sustain Innovation

Innovation Leaders

Innovation leaders promote and address the innovation agenda in their company. Through personal conviction or competitive necessity they are obsessed with providing superior value to customers through innovation. They know how to mobilize their staff behind concrete innovation initiatives and do not hesitate to personally coach innovation teams. For innovation to occur leadership has to be collective. To create a momentum for innovation in their company, leaders from different functions need to team up, to build innovation networks. Innovation leadership is not just an innate talent that can be selected at the hiring level. It can be developed within an appropriate company culture through careful leadership development, typically achieved through career management and coaching. Innovation leaders also need to stay on board and it is the responsibility of the top management team to create an attractive climate to develop and keep its innovation leaders. There are plenty of books that deal with innovation, or with new product development, or with leadership; this is different in its focus on the specifics of innovation leadership – that particular form of leadership that stimulates and sustains innovation. This book maps the broad territory of innovation leadership and contributes new thinking on the focus of the emerging leadership role of the CTO; distinction between ‘front end’ and ‘back end’ innovation leaders; the concept of aligning leadership styles with strategy; and the chain of leadership concept. Combining practice-based and empirical research-based observations with simple conceptual frameworks, illustrated by many company examples and case stories from a broad range of industries in the US and Europe, this is a systematic presentation of innovation drivers and their implications in terms of what leaders need to do to make it work.

Table of content

Preface: Mapping the Innovation Leadership Territory 
Part I: Defining and Characterizing Innovation Leaders

1. A Special Form of Leadership for Innovation?

  • The Leadership Factor
  • Facing the Innovation Imperatives
  • Defining and Characterizing Innovation
  • Innovation Leaders: A Different Breed?
  • Mapping our Journey

2. What’s Special about Innovation Leaders?

  • Innovation Leaders Share Six Attributes
  • Innovation Leaders Tend to Focus on a Stage of Innovation
  • Innovation Leaders Work on Process and Culture

3. Stimulating Bottom-Up Innovation

  • Encouraging Bottom-up Innovation: Classic Approaches
  • Building an Innovation Culture: Four Drivers

4. Steering Innovation Top Down

  • Seeing Innovation as a Competitive Necessity
  • Setting up a Process, Governance System and Organizational Mechanisms
  • Mobilizing People on Innovation-Enhancing Campaigns
  • Getting Involved in Innovation Searches and Projects

5. Appointing an Innovation Conductor

  • CTO or CIO?
  • The First Mission of CTOs: Technological Innovation
  • The Changing Role of CTOs: From Managing to Leading
  • The Emerging Role of Corporate Entrepreneur
  • Facing the Challenge as Part of the Top Executive Team


Part II: The Leadership Imperatives of Innovation Strategies

6. Recognizing the Leadership Imperatives of Your Innovation Strategy

  • Formulating an Innovation Strategy
  • Aligning Your Management Efforts with Your Strategy
  • Activating Specific Change Levers to Support Your Strategy

7. Leading the Development of New/Improved Products or Services Required: Team Sports Coaches to Foster Innovation Discipline

  • Innovation Leaders as Tough Team Sports Coaches
  • Straightening Out Medtronic’s Innovation Process
  • Limits of the "Team Sports Coach" Leaders

8. Leading the Creation of a Totally New Product or Service Category Required: No-Nonsense Sponsors to Steer the New Venture

  • Innovation Leaders as No-nonsense Sponsors
  • New Business Creation at Tetra Pak: Reinventing the Food Can
  • Evolving Leadership Imperatives in New Business Creation

9. Leading the Creation of a Totally New Business System or Model Required: Pragmatic Architects to Put All System Elements in Place

  • Innovation Leaders as Visionary but Pragmatic Architects
  • TiVo: A Business System/Model Innovation
  • Lessons from the TiVo Story

10. Leading the Development of New/Improved Customer Solutions Required: Conductors to Deliver an Enhanced Customer Experience

  • Innovation Leaders as Orchestra Conductors
  • Senseo: An Innovative Customer Solution
  • Building and Leading an Innovation-Focused Partnership

Part III: Developing a Cadre of Innovation Leaders

11. Building an Innovation Leadership Environment: The Logitech Case

  • Logitech: Ordinary or Extraordinary Company?
  • Logitech’s Innovation-stimulating Drivers
  • Logitech’s Innovation-enhancing Culture and Values
  • Logitech’s Pragmatic and Effective Innovation Process
  • Logitech’s Future Challenges

12 Attracting, Developing and Keeping Innovation Leaders

  • Assessing Your Innovation Leadership Resources
  • Selecting and Hiring Innovation Leaders
  • Developing Innovation Leaders
  • Retaining Innovation Leaders
  • Innovation Leadership in a Nutshell

Appendix A Innovation in Leadership and Organizational Culture Models
Appendix B Guidelines for Using the IDEO Video for ‘Idea Management’ Training
Appendix C Factors Affecting the Innovation Climate of a Company


Jean-Philippe Deschamps is an innovation management practitioner with 40 years of international consulting experience. At IMD, which he joined in 1996 as professor of technology and innovation management, he focuses his research, consulting and teaching on the role of leaders in innovation. Before IMD, he was a vice president and practice leader with consulting firm Arthur D. Little. He co-authored the best-selling book Product Juggernauts: How Companies Generate Streams of Market Winners (Harvard Business School Press) and has given seminars and lectures throughout the world, including twice at the World Economic Forum in Davos. He graduated from HEC, INSEAD and Harvard Business School.