I did ask that question to several specialized groups in innovation. The common denominator in the answers is that innovation is the responsibility of a team. No single person should hold that responsibility. But this is the phase when there is already an idea or an issue to be solved. People agree that all the relevant functions need to be involved.
Okay, but what happens if the idea is implemented. What happens then to the team? Will it be dissolved or …? In the current market it is crucial that innovation is not a one-off activity. The recent developments in the financial markets, technology, and politics stress the need for ongoing innovation.
And every employee should be engaged in this process of generating ideas to improve the process and/or to meet the constantly changing customer needs. Only the leadership team can create an environment where this mindset can grows.
And who should be the main driver in the leadership team? My suggestion would be to nominate the marketing manager as well as the HR manager. The marketing manager is chartered to focus on markets and changing customer needs anyway. So he or she should work on innovation in the broadest sense. Innovation means not only developing new services, but also focussing on the business model or the processes. The HR manager should take care that innovation is in every employee’s goal sheet. And they should make sure that there is a professional follow up and incentive program for handling all the new suggestions.