First, the idea of "Chief Culture Officer" struck me as terribly silly. I completely understand the need for the "board-level support for the kind of cultural immersion needed." But, in the same way Chief Innovation Officer doesn't make any sense (how crazy was that??), Culture Officer can't do much if, well, there's no shared culture where (his) ideas can resonate.
And the very moment that kind of culture exists throughout the organization, well, there's no need for anyone in particular to represent it (because everyone does). And if there's no such culture, one man will not bring it in, on a board level or not. Sounds like an oxymoron to me.
Here's a great illustration that I've just came across on Bill Petti's blog: "A study of the top fifty game-changing innovations over a hundred-year period showed that nearly 80% of those innovations were sparked by someone whose primary expertise was outside the field in which the innovation breakthrough took place." And: "Only 1 in 5 game-changing innovations came from the minds of people that are specialized in that particular field."
There's a ton to learn here about culture of innovation and about organization for innovation. (If innovation happens everywhere, what organizational structures support best distributed collaboration? No, the answer is not Chief Innovation or Culture Officer - that's a shortcut.) But, unlike Bill, I don't think that innovation is so much about "polymaths". Maybe more important than having multitalented people is having a lot of connections between them, so that info and ideas can be exchanged quickly and can flow freely. And this is no one man's feat.
Okay, and now to the part of Tim's article that I liked. It is absolutely "overly simplistic" to claim that ad agencies should be like software companies. I have always found that analogy too weak and way too literal. It's like saying: this horse is running fast, let's be like this horse!
The question is, of course, one of values: testing, iteration, short feedback loops, monitoring, collaboration. These values are inherent in digital technology. Software companies, by sheer proxy, are those dealing with this technology the most. So, the easy conclusion is, let's be like this production shop! Whew.
What happens if you are too much focusing on being like a production shop, is that you may miss out opportunity to be something else, something better, and something more suitable for your business. That's a problem with organizational imitation vs. organizational innovation. Next time, I'd like someone to try to say how are digital technology's values changing their agency and the way they are doing marketing, instead of pointing at the fast running horse.