This month's Harvard Business Review contains an excellent article entitled "Creating New Growth Platforms". It articulates very well some of the arguments for strategic innovation that I've often tried to make (with limited success) in my previous executive positions as well as with clients of Venture2 (my new ventures company).
In the article, authors Laurie, Doz and Sheer (of Oyster International and INSEAD respectively) make a strong case for the need for new growth platforms (NGP's) to enable companies to achieve their strategic growth objectives.
Too often, I've seen companies claim to be innovative but are in reality using incremental product innovations as a way to protect and optimize current business. Innovation-driven new business development is a much more strategic use of innovation, but is often over-looked, or worse, killed because it doesn't fall neatly into an existing business unit -- or because senior leaders have created a risk averse culture that doesn't focus on nurturing risky, but potentially valuable new platforms of growth.
So, I hope that this potentially seminal article creates a broader discussion in business circles about the importance of new growth platforms, and the need for more strategic and disciplined approaches to finding and building them.
For another take on this subject, read Ten Rules for Strategic Innovators, a good 'how-to' book on building new strategic business groups within large companies (and the need to balance autonomy and integration).