Reading about Ferran Adrià, world-famous chef from elBulli, in Wired magazine. At one point he explains about their annual off-season retreat to concoct new tastes and dishes. Chefs would normally closely guard their secrets, but in the 'taller' (workshop) the door was open to visitors, especially young chefs passing through town.
"In 1997 we realised that it was very important to share our findings and developments so that we could continuously feed into other people's processes," Ferran says. "at the same time it caused us to have to be continuously better, to continuously improve. It created a pressure." - Wired, UK Edition, Oct 2012
So, el Bulli wasn't just a (the?) top restaurant because they innovated whilst everyone else stuck to the strictures of haute cuisine. They shared the innovations and in doing so ensured that they had to keep innovating. It is one thing getting ahead, but maintaining the drive to stay ahead is another.