Job title: "Innovation Director"

Long story made short: Someone who participated in a recent local event works for a hospital here, and that is his job title. I had never heard of such a thing, so I Googled it, and in short, it’s a person who “sets the company culture.”

I had never heard of such a thing, and it sounds like the kind of job that is performed by someone who is not well-liked by their colleagues, but is completely oblivious to this fact because the higher-ups think they’re da bomb.

Does anyone here have any personal experience with this kind of thing? Just curious.

I’ve worked in Marketing, which is full of people like this. “I’ve got a made up job title for a made up job, but that’s okay, because I believe in my dreams!”

(That’s not to say they can’t play a valuable role in a company. IF they’re down-to-earth types. Businesses all need innovation and a culture…)

I’m betting that in years to come, we could play a game where we take college majors and job titles and guess the year they were invented.

For “Innovation Director” I’d bet we could guess the exact month. I don’t think I’ve heard anything that’s more May of '21…

I want to say that, hearing your anecdote, that the CEO of the hospital owed somebody. Hiring on a “consultant” that doesn’t need to do much of anything was paying that favour back. If the consultant happened to be the son of the person owed the favour, I’m sure that was pure coincidence.

To me, it sounded like some kind of PR position, and apparently it is, although more within the company than outside it.

That’s going to work well.
When I saw the title of the thread I thought it was going to be about someone who would support new ideas. But thinking that some low level lackey is going to “set the company culture” is one of the dumbest corporate things I’ve ever heard, and I’ve heard quite a few.
The top management sets the corporate culture. Period.
But I’m less than sure you’re correct about what this person really does.

Since when did PR drive innovation? Internal PR might think they drive company culture. They don’t.
(Not a knock at you - the stupidity of this job astounds me.)

I have seen Innovation director or Chief innovation Office in start up environments where there is someone who is creative, can come up with new solutions , but you wouldn’t want anywhere near a formal product development process as the thing they design is unlikely to have any documentation , requires an arcane set of procedures to make work properly ,the product is still a work in progress with many “hey we could do this” features sticky taped to the side and it will never be finished.
The driving person of the start up technology may get moved to that sort of role as the company expands and investors bring in different skill sets to grow the company but the skills and passion of the creators still have a meaningful role and may actually be happier.

I’ve usually seen “innovation director” or similar job titles as being someone who reports to the CEO and is outside the usual technology organization, but who is charged with reforming organizational processes or behaviors in new and unusual “innovative” ways. Most of the time this ends up being via technology, and this innovation director is often at odds with their IT peers, as they want to do “innovative” stuff, while their IT peers are concerned with mundane stuff like security, maintainability, scalability, etc…

That’s kind of the issue as I see it; the position is supposed to be disruptive by nature, but rarely is it given the sort of authority that would let it be truly disruptive, because truly disruptive is considered bad.

Son, grandson, or nephew of a major donor to the hospital.

I had a lot of students get jobs in small design firms and ad agencies. Most of those have crazyfun cultures: a lot of arcade machines and pinball machines, one pulled an old Airstream trailer into the building and decked it out as a small conference room… all very cool.

The job titles in these places are also fun. I met a “Design Maven”, a “VP With Lightbulb Over Head”, and a “Creative Difference”.
(I got to choose my job title at one agency. But I kept it normal… I’ve regretted this for four decades)

Oh, just remembered! The short-lived but brilliant Godzilla Agency presented their positions as movie roles:

Starring Curtiss Pusser as Guy In Rubber Suit,
Kurt Anheuser as Raymond Burr,
and Marcus Boannano as Screaming Japanese Extras.

Yeah, any employer that places a lot of emphasis on how much ~FUN~ it is to work there gets a nope from me. I’m all for good employee morale, but if they have to keep saying this, something’s wrong.

I once met a man named Gordon McKenzie, who was an artist at Hallmark for many years, and who wrote a book called “Orbiting the Giant Hairball,” about how one can remain creative and inspired within a corporate environment. Late in his career, McKenzie held the self-designated job title of “Creative Paradox” at Hallmark.

Interesting! I’ve always heard that Hallmark is one of the very best companies to work for, at least in the Kansas City area.

Hearing that the Innovation Director wants to see you probably inspires the same reaction as when a cop gets a notice to report to Internal Affairs.

The cynicism in this thread is hilarious - is this normal in US business culture?

I don’t see anything weird in the title ‘Innovation Director’ - to me, it would be like ‘strategy director’ someone who is there to overhaul how the company operates or to look at new processes. A significant role.

It wouldn’t be anything to do with ‘company culture’, aside from encouraging a more entrepreneurial spirit within an organisation.

Pretty much, especially among those of us who have been working in Corporate America for a while. Doing so tends to burn away the naivete and the trust pretty effectively.

Hospitals and other health care entities are notorious for bringing in “experts” who have never worked in the health care field and don’t know what they’re talking about.

It’s not limited to the U.S., either. I have a FBF who is a longtime ICU nurse in Winnipeg, and they’re dealing with that at her facility, too.

ISTM that improving organizational processes in innovative ways should be central to the CEO’s job description, not a specialty assigned to some flunky. This also takes care of the problem of said flunky coming up with ideas but not having the authority to implement them.

The only exception would be if there was a need to improve some very specific and highly technical business process. That’s a specific one-time task, and that’s what qualified consultants are for.

Innovation Director is a real job title. They’re in charge of shepherding innovation through a company which is not easy to do given how often companies fail at it.

Let’s say a hospital wants to move into Electronic Health Records. It may not sound like an innovation to you given that it’s something that started in the 70s but it’s an innovation for them, so how do they do it? EHR is a mammoth movement with myriad tentacles and complications. The main challenge for the hospital is that they currently don’t know what they don’t know. So an innovation team would come in and engage with outside vendors, figure out what talent needs to be recruited in house, determine the scoping of a pilot project and what they hope to learn, figure out the appropriate teams and stakeholders to get buy in from and do a small trial project that gives the executive team more information on whether this is something to commit serious resources to or abandon.

Usually innovation teams don’t do this themselves, there will be a project champion inside the company that is the main stakeholder on the innovation and the innovation department is there to assist. The problem is the main stakeholder’s day job is not innovation, it’s keeping the existing system running so they may have varying degrees of capabilities in integrating new business processes. One day, you could be helping figure out EHR, the next day, it’s VR surgery, the next, it’s some crypto thing. The key is, you’re not an expert in any one system, you’re an expert in how to bring good ideas into the company in a way that makes them stick.

It’s also an extremely fluffy job so a lot of the people in it are hacks and con artists but the people who do it well are transformative to large businesses that struggle under the weight of bureaucracy.