Sponsored feature

Should senior managers at brands 'back off' so innovation can thrive? The Marketing Society Forum

A former P&G development head says 'over-managing' is 'killing the golden goose' of innovation.


On the contrary, it is imperative that senior management creates a culture where innovation and creativity can flourish.

The tone and the propensity for risk needs to be set at the top of an organisation, and senior leaders have a key role in establishing this. They must provide clear strategic direction, sponsor key initiatives and free up resources.

Project teams can then be free to experiment, be dynamic and take risks, knowing they have support across the organisation.

When senior management shares ownership of innovation, there's freedom for challenges and disappointments to be talked about openly, and to shout about successes.


Brands should be close to creativity and fully embrace it. Ideas and innovation can drive us out of recession.

Senior managers at the most dynamic companies often make it their duty to foster an environment for creativity to flourish.

This does not mean that they micro-manage teams, but it needs to be clear from their leadership that they welcome lateral thinking, even if this approach doesn't lead to success every time.

From many innovations will come great advances, and as long as those generating the ideas know that this is acceptable company culture, nobody will need to back off. 'Backing', rather than 'back off', should be the mantra.


Creative innovation requires an understanding of what needs to be done and its value, empathy with the individuals whose responsibility it is to deliver it, and the appetite to overcome the barriers that inevitably crop up.

While this is as true for coming up with a brand as it is for implementing an accounting system, innovation demands doing something that hasn't been done before, and this brings risk.

Skilled senior managers appreciate this, creating a culture in which the process of invention and those behind it feel supported, energised and appreciated.

If they don't foster such a culture, then they shouldn't be senior managers.


The senior team should of course empower a team of creative professionals to do a great job and generate successful ideas.

However, rather than excluding, the clever marketer listens, includes and involves senior management.

Having launched innovations in five very different food and drink companies, I can say that achieving senior management buy-in greatly facilitates the innovation process.


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


Ex-Thomas Cook marketer Mike Hoban resurfaces at Morrisons
Barbour creates real-time illustrations of consumers' stories for summer campaign
Viral review: Samsung goes for Apple’s jugular but fails to connect
View from Brazil: why we didn't believe we could lose the World Cup
Heineken unveils ‘Open Your City’ drive with Metro for ‘men of the world’
Unilever continues portfolio 'reshaping' with Slim-Fast sale
Amazon to fight US authorities over in-app purchase claims
Google set to invest $100m in Europe's tech start-ups
Metcalfe's set to release quirky debut TV ad
Samsung pities the iPhone 'wall huggers'
Smirnoff campaign aims to make Formula One less elitist
Apple wins EU battle to register store layout as trademark
Marketing directors need to step outside 'marketing box' to earn seat on the board
Hottest virals: Burger King’s emotional gay pride Whopper ad, plus Apple and Guinness
Developer creates software enabling Google Glass mind-control
Kick-ass girl beats up shopping centre staff in music video
Top 10 ads of the week: Aldi's World Cup cider ad scores with consumers
Sony relives Germany's 7-1 victory against Brazil in Subbuteo Vine
Burberry credits 9% revenue hike on strong online sales and 'more targeted marketing'
Ritz returns to UK TV screens after 30-year hiatus
Mars creates chief health and wellbeing officer role
Brands make the most of Germany's dramatic victory over Brazil
Adios Justin King! Watch our video tribute as he leaves Sainsbury's after a decade
Nike calls time on 13-year Manchester United kit deal
Three TV ad banned over misleading 'free' call claims
GNM boss David Pemsel: 'The Guardian has got its mojo back'
M&S has missed a massive opportunity to put digital strategy at its heart
Google partners with the Barbican to show coders are artists
Samaritans encourages men to talk about issues with #DownNotOut campaign
Lego's partnership with Shell 'not awesome', according to Greenpeace viral