Settling into the C-Suite

Less than a decade ago the chief innovation officer or CINO was viewed by some as a silly job title, just another ill-defined guru/Sherpa/visionary/Jedi thing. Who’s laughing now? Government CINOs are driving demonstrable change. Anchorage, Alaska, is poised to reap $1 million in revenue thanks to a rewrite of a couple city form letters; Rhode Island schools are driving down absenteeism by texting parents when kids don’t come to school; Arkansas is taking the paper out of government procurement. All these initiatives got their start in the CINO’s office. In announcing the top data-driven cities of 2018, What Works Cities Executive Director Simone Brody made a telling statement. “All over the country, local governments are jumping into this movement and dramatically improving how their cities operate,” she said. This comment on the rise of open data serves equally well as a launching point for a broader conversation about the rise of the chief innovation officer. Rooted in data and buoyed by IT advances, the CINO (and the less-common chief transformation officer) increasingly can be spotted on state and local government org charts. Some 40 percent of cities and 42 percent of counties had full-time innovation professionals on staff in 2017,…

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