Last week I introduced a new role called the Chief Entrepreneur: a guardian of experimentation culture in a large company. In this post, I want to detail the team that sits under the Chief Entrepreneur. I present to you my org chart for innovation. Let’s take a look at some of the key roles responsible for managing the exploration of completely new value propositions and business models.
A quick recap on the role I outlined in my Harvard Business Review post. The Chief Entrepreneur is the guardian of the experimentation culture where small failure and learning is possible. The CE’s objective is to create substantially new growth engines in the billion dollar range.
Chief Portfolio Manager
The Chief Portfolio Manager has the interesting role of making sure the company is looking at a range of opportunities and business models that will create future growth. Some of those opportunities will be risky, some will be less. Some will have a potential return, while others will have a guaranteed return. It is the Chief Portfolio Manager’s job to ensure there is a broad portfolio. This person must understand the environment the company is operating in--is there disruptive tech in the horizon? What factors are influencing a particular space? The Chief Portfolio Manager must then adapt the portfolio to that environment so the company is well positioned for the future.
Chief Venture Capitalist
The Chief Venture Capitalist allocates the budget and manages financing rounds, and will have the most direct connection with entrepreneurs conducting experiments. A project won’t get full funding right away, but it will receive money in trenches. The Chief VC will provide angel investments to fund early, cheap experiments. When those experiments succeed and produce evidence, the VC will invest more money. If you look at our org chart, the Chief VC mirrors the role of the CFO. On the left, a CFO allocates budgets to the existing business; while on the right, a Chief VC will allocate money to the discovery of a future business.
Chief Risk Officer
Some of the experiments a team will conduct may be detrimental to the brand and could carry legal liabilities. Legal can be a big constraint to experimentation in a company. The Chief Risk Officer is there to enable teams. The CRO is a role that will help entrepreneurs understand how to run experiments without putting the company at risk.
Chief Internal Ambassador
The Chief Internal Ambassador knows everything that’s going on in both sides of the company. The CIA knows all of the resources, activities, and patents that exist on the execution arm of the organization, and also has the trust of the powerful people that manage them. The CIA makes sure the Chief Entrepreneur and the team benefits from the strengths of the existing company by negotiating access to elements like clients, a salesforce, the brand, and its skills. This role is the link between the existing company and its innovative partner. Communication on each other’s progress will be integral to finding the right relationship between both sides.
The Entrepreneurs build the businesses, with each one responsible for a particular business experiment as its leader. This role becomes a lot stronger than your regular product manager: they are real entrepreneurs, with clear incentives, and have a stake in the company.