The NY Times has an interesting Q&A with Terry Tietzen from Edatanetworks about innovation leadership. The concept of how you lead innovation is actually relatively new. When most companies, or consulting companies, talk about implementing innovation they usually mean implementing some new process or the use of some new technology. There is rarely any discussion on the people side. It is also normal for any article that talks about innovation to be about some technology company.
We work with companies that are trying to move from a static-control culture to one that is dynamic-innovative. This change is happening in many companies as their markets mature and as cost reductions get more and more difficult. In this environment you need innovation leaders. These leaders are not the creative/innovative people that come up with the ideas; they are the people that manage the innovation process from ideation to product launch. They require both strategic understanding and tactical/operational focus. It is an unusual position that cannot be filled with just anyone from marketing (which is what many companies do).
We have worked to develop a process that allows companies to identify and recruit the right people. We also work with our clients to create individual development plans for each of their innovation leaders to support them as they drive the innovation process through the organization.