Have a small specialist team develop an innovative idea outside the constraints of project development, to build confidence in the idea
Insulate the mainstream project development from the innovative ideas until they have been evaluated and risks minimized. A product needs innovation to remain competitive, but should not risk the entire project by introducing innovation directly and without test and evaluation.
There are many aspects to the original SkunkWorks pattern in addition to those discussed here, that deal with how to set up a SkunkWorks team within an organization. The latest technologies are always held to have value in their own right; conversion to OO, or to components, to web technology, EJB or to patterns, is considered "good" without a second thought. Even keeping in the mainstream requires adopting innovations as the mainstream adopts them, and this bears its risks, as does all innovation.