Intriguingly, at various points Joel Mokyr, The Enlightened Economy: An Economic History of Britain 1700-1850 (Yale Univ. 2009), describes various monetary rewards that were posted in England in the 18th century for successful innovations. The incentives succeeded. One of the best-known was a huge prize for the person who solved how to determine longitude at sea (at 134, and see 137, 187 and 192 for others).
In the world of law departments, we have a profusion of honors and recognitions bestowed (See my post of June 10, 2007: lists eight entities that give out awards.), yet no one has put cash on the barrelhead for law department management innovations.
Perhaps an organization or a collective of law departments would announce a hefty cash prize for the best idea or practice to address value billing, reports from matter management systems, contract templates or other well-nigh intractable problems. A different set of submissions would result from the current set of nominations (See my post of Feb. 4, 2006: Home Depot won award of Legal Technology News for matter management software; Oct. 8, 2007: Verizon Communications recognized for e-discovery initiatives; Feb. 21, 2008: College of Law Practice InnovAction Award for law departments; June 11, 2008: Qwest won Corporate Counsel award; April 13, 2009: law department wins technology award; April 28, 2010 #1: Dell’s web portal wins award; Aug. 10, 2010: four finalists for best department award; Dec. 5, 2010: Financial Times innovation award to ITV; and Dec. 3, 2010: seven law departments and two focused initiatives from Financial Times.).