Innovators Delight: Better Job, More Money, Different Commute

Categories: Innovation Insights

I have been meeting and working with a lot of organizations over the last year, and an unusual trend has emerged: people in innovation are taking more risks.

  • Recently a large bank hired several Chief Innovation Officers. The recruitment agency managed to find these people after an extensive search. The new CIOs were formerly in similar positions in other firms, firms whose commitment to innovation had become lukewarm, or where the company had undergone some form of major ‘transition’ (read take-over).
  • Another firm with a huge new commitment to innovation used conferences and trade shows to build a list of good-looking innovators (not their personal looks) and when they started the hiring spree, they quickly found the people they needed.
  • And finally, more and more individuals around the world have told me that they are willing to take more ‘risks’ being innovative, because they are confident first of success, and second that there is a good or better place for them to go to if things do not work out. They therefore ask for a lot more budget, make strong arguments for headcount, investment in physical facilities (think ideation spaces, pilot plants, etc), and investment in innovation infrastructure (yes, Imaginatik’s own Idea Central software – quick but honest plug).

I spent some time understanding these developments, and assessing whether there was a trend at work, rather than a series of unconnected anecdotes. I can happily report that there is a trend:

The worst that happens to a good innovator is that the get a better job, with more money, and a different commute.

Companies need to build up their teams, and the easiest way to do this quickly is to hire people with experience. These people are more demanding in their new jobs – and are treated with more respect. In their old firms, they may have been the corporate crazies, not really supported by their so-called executive champions. And whilst it may be great if the new employer were in the same place, most normally the innovator has to change their commute, or move to where the better job is.

This is happening a lot more in the US than Europe. In the US there are some nexus areas with many, many firms. Think Chicagoland, New Jersey, New York, Silicon Valley, etc. In these places, it really is no more than a different commute.

And the salaries are higher. I do not have any salary data for sure, but I do have an idea of the amount of money spent on recruitment fees, plus the seniority of the new hires. One consumer product firm spent $100,000 on hiring a single director – and that is not exceptional by any means.

I have also seen this trend working in various countries. In the last months I have presented in Poland, Mexico and Turkey, and this trend is definitely working in these places as well. To an extent, this “better-job-more-money-different-commute” is even easier in these countries, as the pioneer innovators are a rare breed, and very much in demand.

So, treat this as a great Christmas message. Take a chance on innovation, step up to the challenge, and be aware that the worst that will happen to you is that you get a better job, with more money, and a different commute. Good luck!


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