Creating Innovation "pull"
So, in many companies, the strategy for encouraging innovation is what I'd call innovation "push" - the senior leadership will push innovation into the business. What I'd like to recommend, and what I think you'll find is common in most successful innovation firms, is what we call innovation "pull". Rather than talk about the importance of innovation, what I'd like to see more firms do is simply place a requirement for growth or differentiation in each line of business, business function, product team or other organizational unit. For example, we could tell each line of business that we expect it to grow X% next year, and that each line of business should indicate what innovative products, services, business models or tactics it will apply to drive that growth. Or, stealing a move from 3M or P&G, we could set an expectation that X% of all sales must come from products released in the last 18 months. The key is to move away from advocacy to real plans and measurements.
This creates pull - because now the businesses or product groups have to identify innovative products or services, and have to demonstrate the results of their innovation efforts. Building innovative programs or initiatives into the plan for the year, or for several years, and then demonstrating the actions and outcomes and being measured and rewarded for those efforts is what will create innovative thinking and efforts in the company.
When the teams are expected to innovate, and measured on innovation, and rewarded based on their work and efforts, then there's much less need to push innovation - you've created the incentives for innovation to take hold and succeed - now you'll need to provide the resources, processes and people to make innovation successful.