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


Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage
ASH runs Tinder experiment to show smokers are less desirable to opposite sex
British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo
US Airways apologises after tweeting obscene image at a customer
Mumsnet admits users' emails and passwords accessed via Heartbleed bug
Thetrainline.com backs 'rubbish' mobile app with TV ad
Powerade launches global World Cup campaign
Burberry's flagship Shanghai store facade responds to weather changes
Subway considers taking fast food to fast lane with F1 sponsorship
Ikea splurges 'grey' Belgium with colour
Grim outlook for Tesco boss Philip Clarke ahead of expected profits fall
Thomson to create first crowd-sourced wedding decided by Facebook fans
Currency wars meets origami in Alpari FX trading ad campaign
Amazon rumoured to launch 3D smartphone in September
Facebook to allow European users to store and transfer money on site, claims report
Unilever pilots multi-brand advertising with YouTube beauty channel
Lego, Coca-Cola, Net-a-Porter, Bitcoin and AOL: the digitally creative brands
Dove tries to tell women their beauty is innate through placebo patches
Wonga faces social media storm after forcing Twitter to remove satirical material
Spotify tells the stories of relationships with music
Skype contrasts real stories with 'saccharine' style of Google and Apple
Top 100 UK advertisers: BSkyB increases lead as P&G, BT and Unilever reduce adspend
Viral Review: One Direction perfume 'prankvert' should have been a bigger hit
German beer brand Warsteiner tells drinkers to 'do it right'
SSE signs 10 year deal to sponsor Wembley Arena