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Innovation Comes Top Down, Bottom Up

New York — Businesses looking to hire innovative executives
must first commit their organizations to that principle
from the top level down, according to a panel discussion
Thursday at the Multichannel News event “Breaking Through:
Innovating Cable TV.”

Korn/Ferry senior client partner and global managing director
Bill Simon said that too many times, organizations
say they want to hire a chief innovation officer only because
their competitors have one.

“Sometimes it’s a defensive maneuver,” Simon said of companies
looking to hire innovation chiefs. “They have to define
it, believe in it. The challenge is getting senior leaders to buy in.”

TD Madison and Associates founder and CEO Dean
Madison said that doesn’t mean exchanging experienced
workers for younger ones with a better grasp of technology.
But it does mean weeding out those executives that are
not willing to change.

At the CEO level, “People skills are No. 1,” Red Door Innovation
Center founder and chief strategist John Di Frances
said. “Corporate America has to become a people business
and is going to have to have innovation and drive it.“

In the cable industry, some companies have looked
outside of the traditional cable sector for innovative executives.
Carlsen Resources founder and CEO Ann Carlsen,
a veteran in the search firm field, said that 75% to 80% of
the people she is currently looking at for cable positions
are from outside the sector.

Businesses are looking for executives who have the
ability to synthesize information quickly into its most
important aspects.

“That is a difficult thing to find,” she said.

But companies that are looking outside of the box for executives
have to make sure that those people are aligned
with their culture and mission. “If they are not aligned with
culture or the mission, it can wreak havoc beyond belief,”
Madison said.