Horizon Media wants to move beyond media and creative agency responsibilities to become inventors and problem solvers for clients, the industry and for Horizon itself. Now, the agency is promoting Taylor Valentine to the newly created post of chief invention officer to develop an invention blueprint and make its best ideas a reality.
“We are operating in a world where we have a white canvas and anything is possible,” said Bill Koenigsberg, president, CEO and founder of Horizon Media. “Today’s landscape has provided more opportunity to invent than ever before. Invention needs to live in every corner of Horizon and become a way of life and a culture driver for all those working here.”
In his new role, Valentine will work across the agency to identify and lead all invention strategies, essentially acting as a "lightning rod" to promote invention across all facets of the agency and increase agency value.
"Invention is already a huge part of what we do, and this appointment serves as a way to ensure that we increase our speed to market and the visibility of all the tremendous inventions that Horizon is creating," says Valentine. "Accountability of this sort will ensure that invention remains steadily at the forefront of the minds of our people and our clients. There’s a time and place for incremental change and tweaks to products and services that are 'tried and true,' but there is also an ever increasing demand for instances of bolder change and the willingness to create brand new ones as well. Invention is meant to focus on the latter."
Initially, Horizon has built out 10 'pods of invention' internally, which are led by Horizon team members and are focused on a specific project or outcome. Valentine will oversee these 10 pods as well as maintain the relationships associated with Horizon’s other partnerships and strategic investments. In total, the agency hopes to have upwards of 50 (full and part-time) members of the organization focused on invention by the end of the year.
Still, this position is more than just supervising those with inspiring ideas. The chief invention officer will pioneer product development and new forms of media, formulate better ways to solve client problems, and seek new ways to recruit and motivate employees.
Valentine is also charged with leading invention in owning intellectual property; scouring the marketplace for new emerging activation technologies which will be fueled by Horizon’s investment vehicles; and creating partnerships that help the agency invent effectively. "Clients want to know that their partners are staying ahead of the game," says Valentine.
Valentine brings a diverse range of experience to this position. Most recently, he served as SVP, social media strategy -- responsible for expanding the agency’s social capabilities and implementing new social programs. In that role, Valentine created the agency’s social practice, which directs a team of 35 social media experts. Before his time with Horizon, Valentine worked in eCommerce and management consulting industries. "You could interpret Taylor’s founding of the Social Media practice seven years ago as an invention unto itself," says Vinnie O'Toole, chief financial officer, Horizon Media. "Back then, the term 'social media' hardly existed, yet the practices and solutions he created were in demand by clients. The same challenge is being put towards Taylor today -- but in this case, it is cross-organizational invention with a much larger and active extended team."
That said, Valentine recognizes that this new position comes with challenges. "The opportunities are vast, so one obstacle will be determining exactly how and where we place our bets. In addition to that, we face the issue of market readiness -- in other words, ensuring that there is a hungry customer ready to receive our solutions."
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