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


Oasis #springasmile digital campaign gets people doing good deeds
Coca-Cola: 'Don't approach bloggers with a fait accompli'
Tesco CMO Matt Atkinson: 'It is so important not to stereotype mothers'
McDonald's gives Ronald a new look ahead of global 'Fun times' social media push
In pictures: BrewDog opens first craft beer shop BottleDog for 'beer aficionados'
Facebook ad revenue leaps $1bn as it invests in targeting
Malteser or Maltesers? Mars takes Hershey trademark dispute to court
Apple Q2 profits top $10bn as iPhone sales soar
Lynx tells men not to leave love to fate
HBO captures awkwardness of watching sex scenes with parents
Primark to open first US stores with Boston chosen as flagship location
Marketing spend on the up but a reality check is needed before celebrating
Top 10 ads of the week: Jackpotjoy and BT Broadband fend off Kevin Bacon
Lidl beats Tesco to 10m Facebook fans
Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers