What a great idea!

Thomas Wailgum

Inside today's most resourceful marketing organizations, the resounding drumbeat for more innovation has become deafening. “The only way to survive is to be innovative,” admits Warwick Stirling, the global director of innovation at Benton Harbor, Mich.–based Whirlpool Corp. “It's not an option.”

The question is, how do you innovate? By locking your team in a colorful room for hours on end? By begging the finance department for more money? By taking a smart pill every morning? Innovation is, after all, an abstract term, one that can be difficult to grasp, let alone communicate to a legion of marketing pros. “CMOs are all trying to figure this out, wondering what everyone else is doing and the best way to manage and maintain it,” says Cindy Commander, an analyst at Cambridge, Mass.–based Forrester Research, who works with research that concentrates on chief marketing officers. “Anyone can have one great, innovative idea. But how can you sustain that [momentum] over a longer period of time?”