This internal micro-meme all started recently when the team went to visit IBM’s labs, where they met a whole group of people with titles such as “Innovation Ninja” and “Virtual World Evangelist”. Katherine opines that if she took the title “Ideas Monkey” – a slightly humorous though not very accurate summary of what she does for us – she’d be in a position of reduced credibility every time she handed out her business card. She prefers to retain her very corporate title “Senior Innovation Manager”.
Catalyst for Magic has been my business title since I joined AMP on 2 April 2000. I chose it because my real title is this long, boring, corporate-sounding sentence that puts people, myself included, to sleep.
Catalyst for Magic is much more fun, a fabulous conversation starter and the perfect summary of what I do…which is to help unleash the magic we find from employing human beings, as opposed to machines, to transform tour organisation and our business.
Initially, when everyone came back from the visit to IBM, I was skeptical in the extreme about the value of – as one of the team put it – “2.0 friendly” titles. It took a conversation with a colleague to open my eyes to something that Annalie knew from the start: the title can be a great door opener. Is it possible you can create buzz with an email signature, and if so, what might the value of that buzz be in the innovation process?
Actually, I’ve lost count of the times people have said to me “Head of Innovation? What a great job!”. Even this corporate-sounding version gets people excited.
How would you spend your time: one hour with a Senior Manager (a title denoting a hierarchical position only) or that same hour with a “Innovation Insider”? if you’ve never met the individual before, I’d be willing you’d bet on the latter, if only out of curiosity. At the very least, the title connotes that the individual might know something you want to know rather than being someone that demands time from you because of their position.
As an experiment, I sent out a serious business type email today with the title of “Diviner of Newness” instead of “Head of Innovation”. Not only was the response pretty immediate, I got a phone from someone who never picks up the phone ever. Clearly, the right title can create buzz.
So, I am now not as skeptical as I previously was on this subject. I may explore a nice Title 2.0 for myself, and certainly have given free rein to the team to use any title – within reason – themselves. It will be interesting to see if they actually do something about it.
PS: I am preserving my old “Head of” business cards. I’ll still need them, since a lot of business today is about hierarchy and one’s place in it. But when I finally come up with the right Title 2.0, I’ll definitely use it when the situation seems to make sense that I do so.