How Renaming the C-Suite Can Spark Innovation

How Renaming the C-Suite Can Spark InnovationToday’s business leaders need to adjust their way of thinking. The world is changing faster than ever before, and executives must be able to think holistically and act personally to stay ahead of the curve. Making this a reality requires organizations to refocus their approach to the C-Suite. New titles for CXOs such as chief of reason, chief resilience officer, and chief rouser will open the door to innovation like never before.

Problems With the Current C-Suite Model

The conventional structure of our organizations and management teams was well suited to many of the challenges of the 20th century, but not today’s world. For example, a focus was needed on marketing and customer service, so companies appointed a chief marketing officer. Financial skills and management expertise are clearly vital, hence the rise of the chief financial officer. And when it comes to the black art of managing people, the chief people officer (HR Director) takes responsibility.

However, this approach has always had one major flaw, and now another problem has evolved. The perennial problem is that the responsibility for delivering to customers doesn’t rest on one individual or even one department. It has never been solely the responsibility of the CMO. Rather, everyone works in service of current and potential clients.

Similarly, when managing people or finance, having someone with the necessary skills working constantly to improve their area of the company is great, but these advantages are outweighed by the benefits of holding everyone responsible for important issues. Or, to put it another way, the mere presence of a CFO means that some people can choose to neglect their financial responsibilities, safe in the knowledge that the CFO and her team will provide cover.

Another problem with this approach has been present for a while, and has recently become acute. Appointing a CFO, CMO, COO, or any of the conventional C-Suite members is too internally focused and fails to take into account the changes necessary to accomplish the following:

  • Think holistically and recognize that issues cut across these functions.
  • Act personally and take responsibility for improving the organization and delivering its strategy or goals.
  • Refocus everyone in the organization on six vital issues: the 6Rs or reason, revenue, rousers, reputation, relationships, and resilience. These are complementary to each other and each is part of the framework that helps you create value, competitive advantage, and sustainable growth.

Renaming the C-Suite is vital not only because of the external changes shaping the world in which we live, but also because of the need to understand the big picture and balance this with a practical, execution-oriented approach that reflects the desire for strong, capable leadership.

How Renaming Can Inspire Current Leaders

In most organizations, people wish to leave it better than when they arrived: they aspire to deliver quality as well as achieve recognition and reward. This should come as no surprise — after all, very few successful people are content to simply work on a pointless endeavor for long.

The challenge, therefore, is to help people find meaning in their work: the element that they value and enjoy as well as the recognition of where they fit within the organization’s work. The 6Rs provide a great framework for this: they can help people understand what they do, why they do it, and their wider impact and benefit. They can connect with other people — both inside and outside the organization — and work with a common purpose.

In order to implement the 6Rs, the C-Suite needs to be renamed around them so executives can feel a new sense of purpose and direction in how they manage. Titles are labels that imply responsibility and accountability. If there are new responsibilities, it is important to name them and to appoint somebody to lead them and assign the right resources to make it a success. Revamping titles and organization of top execs like this is an amazing way to breathe new life into your business and pave the way for new ideas.

How Renaming Can Attract the Right Employees

In order to be one step ahead today in business, you must have continuous innovation and a strong sense of purpose. Renaming is a way to ensure that change is embraced and welcome. It sends a signal outward as well as inward. People who get excited and feel challenged with change will acknowledge that signal and want to work for you.

Big changes like this can feel risky, but ultimately you will attract more potential employees who are better suited for your company and who will enjoy contributing to your innovation and growth. Then the more you have to choose from with each job opening, the more selective you can be, and you will gain higher quality employees.

Change is one constant that can be counted upon, and change now needs to be re-evaluated in relation to the way we manage our organizations. Don’t be afraid to make a big statement with a big change and jump ahead of your competition. After all, the only thing harder than predicting the future is trying to ignore it.

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How Renaming the C-Suite Can Spark InnovationLuis Gallardo is a global brand and marketing leader and an expert in strategic brand management, brand engagement, brand expression, marketing, communications, business development, and reputation management. Former managing director of global brand and marketing at Deloitte, Luis provided leadership to Deloitte’s network of 3000 marketing and communications professionals. He is the author of Brands & Rousers.

Luis Gallardo




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No Comments

  1. Jeff Gutman on January 4, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Very good article. I think the real innovators will catch on to this and embrace it.


  2. dced on January 7, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    Wish it was this easy. Telling someone they can make music like Elvis Costello doesn’t make them a great musician. True, higher-gross-margin-than-your-competitors innovation doesn’t happen because of a title. You either possess the capacity to identify these kinds of opportunities or you don’t. Check out Perth Leadership and see the connection between behavioral finance and innovation.

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