Do Educational Institutions Need a Chief Innovation Officer?

IdeaScale’s second largest customer segment is in the field of education (our largest segment is our work in government innovation) and it’s been growing steadily over the past four years. One of the reasons that we think there’s a renewed focus on innovation in education, is because numerous emerging trends impact education at every level: from remote learning to the maker movement and the gig economy.

That’s one of the reasons that Entangled Solutions authored a white paper about the emerging role of the Chief Innovation Officer in the education sector (particularly in higher education). But what should the responsibilities of a University’s Chief Innovation Officer be? Well, here are a few thoughts.

Culture Creator. Everyone agrees that the biggest driver of innovation is culture. The CIO should organize multiple initiatives that would encourage innovation – everything from celebrating the successes and failures of new discoveries to test driving emerging trends visibly on campus.

Making Connections. Because new ideas are budding everywhere on campus, the CIO should be looking for and connecting ideas everywhere. After all, most good ideas can be applied in multiple contexts. What if the findings in this one research project could influence the study in another department?

Distributing Good Ideas. Some new ideas are already in practice and succeeding. The CIO needs to find those ideas and start applying them across the entire institution: the new recycling program in the English department? The process that saved the admissions department a few thousand dollars? The research practice that saves lab technicians hours every month? All of these can be applied elsewhere and need to be socialized.

Bringing Down the Barriers. Oftentimes, people perceive academia to be separate from the real world. The CIO can make the connection between internal programs and findings at the university and connect those results to alumni programs, businesses, and the local community. By opening up innovation efforts, you might find new ideas and new applications for great ideas. Not to mention a few people who might want to join or support the university in some way.

And those are just a few ideas to get you started. To learn more about innovation in the field of education, download our complimentary infographic on the subject.

By Rob Hoehn

About the author

Rob Hoehn is the co-founder and CEO of IdeaScale: the largest open innovation software platform in the world. Hoehn launched crowdsourcing software as part of the open government initiative and IdeaScale’s robust portfolio now includes many other industry notables, such as EA Sports, NBC, NASA, Xerox and many others. Prior to IdeaScale, Hoehn was Vice President of Client Services at Survey Analytics.

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