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  • Writer's pictureYoram Solomon, PhD

What you need is a Chief Culture Officer

Peter Drucker said that "business has two--and only tow--basic functions: marketing and innovation."

Well, your company probably already has a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), and most likely a Chief Innovation Officer (CINO, to distinguish from your Chief Information Officer, CIO). So you have both Druckerian functions covered.

You may also have a Chief Strategy Officer (CSO). I served as one before.

But here is the rub: none of those matter without one function on your executive team. A quick LinkedIn search yielded 27,466 people with the title Chief Innovation Officer. 254,333 people hold the title Chief Marketing Officer. 587,343 hold the title of Chief Executive Officer.

However, only 754 hold the title Chief Culture Officer, and only half of those are in the US.

Why is that important?

In 2008, I embarked on my PhD research, in a quest to answer the question: "why are people more creative when they work in startups than when they work in large, mature companies?"

While it took me two years and 348 pages to complete, the answer is really simple: because as companies grow, they lose their innovation culture.

Autonomy and accountability give way to bureaucracy and CYA. The ability to hold constructive disagreement gives way to office politics and political correctness.

Besides, it was already said (no, not by Peter Drucker) that "culture eats strategy for breakfast" (or lunch, or dinner, or whatever your favorite meal is).

A Chief Culture Officer's main role will be to make sure the company develops and maintains a culture of trust, because only when leaders trust their employees they will give them autonomy. Only when employees trust their leaders, they will be willing to take risk and be accountable. Only when team members trust each other, they will be willing to be vulnerable with one another, give direct and honest feedback, be receptive to such feedback, and as a result--be able to hold a constructive disagreement. And those are the elements that make up a culture of innovation, and only once you master them, your company will be innovative.

It gets even better. Additional original research I conducted showed that if your salespeople are trustworthy, they will be able to generate 29.6% higher revenue.

You need a Chief Culture Officer before you need a Chief Marketing Officer, a Chief Innovation Officer, a Chief Strategy Officer, or even a Chief Sales Officer.

Trust me.

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