The perculator approach to innovation in organizations

In the quest to increase innovation within an organization, there are different approaches, each adapted to the unique characteristics of the organization in question.

Two commonly discussed methods are top-down and bottom-up. However, there is another method, the Perculator model, which offers some advantages in promoting innovation.

The top-down approach

The top-down approach is a classic approach where leadership takes the lead in championing and setting innovation expectations for the entire organization. It is rooted in the belief that once the importance of innovation is established at the top, it will gradually trickle down throughout the organization.

A challenge with the top-down approach is that innovation cannot be ordered; it is based on individual motivation and willingness to be creative. Being creative just because someone else thinks it’s important can be difficult, and if not everyone shares the perspective, innovation can stall despite good intentions.

The bottom-up approach

Conversely, the bottom-up approach aims to create an environment where individuals are empowered to engage in creativity, with the hope that innovative ideas will eventually reach the attention of leadership.

Although this approach encourages grassroots creativity, it often faces obstacles in practice. Innovative solutions, especially those that involve major changes, can be stopped higher up in the organization when there is a lack of understanding or when established metrics do not support the innovation work.

The perculator model

The Perkulator model is different in that it revolves around the will to innovate. It recognizes and supports innovation wherever it appears. This approach drives innovation because it aims to remove barriers for those who want to innovate. When others witness successful examples of innovation and change, the will to innovate spreads throughout the organization, like a perculator bubbling from within with great potential to scale.

One of the main advantages of this model is that innovation can start at different levels within the organization, and it also promotes collaborations at different levels. The only requirement of this method is to protect innovation once it occurs.

This means having the necessary budget support and ensuring that old key performance indicators (KPIs) and outdated leadership styles do not stifle innovation.

This can be achieved through the presence of a knowledgeable innovation leader with direct access to top management and who can communicate the status and potential resistance in the innovation effort to quickly resolve it.


In conclusion, although there is no one-size-fits-all approach to fostering innovation in organizations, the Perkulator model offers a different path. By nurturing and protecting innovation wherever it emerges and fostering collaboration at different levels, this approach can create a dynamic environment where innovation naturally bubbles up and spreads, ultimately driving positive change and growth within the organization.