What the World’s Most Innovative Organizations are Doing Right

Fast Company magazine does a yearly review of innovative companies. In the most recent study published in March of 2015, they list the Top 50 Most Innovative Companies of 2014. Not surprisingly, Google tops the list but there are others on the list that are lesser known but still innovative and interesting organizations. Their study was conducted over 6 months time and they reviewed thousands of organizations.

As they reviewed the data they used, some trends emerged and we’ve summarized five of them for you to consider as you, hopefully, work to encourage innovation in your organization.

· “Exceptional is expected”—Google is number one on the list because its people execute at a high level often. Word like exceptional aren’t often used in business but should be! We all should be striving to do great work as frequently as possible and to take whatever our role is to new heights—not just once in a while. I would love to work for an organization that expected me to be exceptional—how about you?

· “Innovation is episodic”—interesting that only a few of the companies that made last year’s list are on this year’s list and the authors think that is not because those people “lost their edge,” it’s because innovation isn’t a constant in most places—it comes and goes! This should remind us to grab on to an innovative idea when we find one and not let it go as it may never come again!

· “Making money matters”—it’s nice to have a workplace where ideas are flowing but if those ideas can’t be translated into new business opportunities or improvements, they really don’t matter. The really innovative organizations generate new ideas that result in moving the business forward and are self-sustaining.

· “Happy customers make you happy”—their example of this is Yelp which works hard to reward its customers by adding features that make it easier to use their product. This is in contrast to organizations that were on previous lists that appear to be doing the reverse—making it more difficult to be their customer. Do you listen to your customers and use that feedback to move your organization forward?

· “Unlocking global talent unlocks possibilities”—they cite a company in Kenya, IHUB that is unleashing Silicon Valley potential by signing up 10,000 members, launching 152 companies, and expanding into Tanzania and Uganda. Are you thinking globally for ideas and markets?

Our world has become so focused on short-term results that we often neglect the ideas that have long-term impact. What are you doing to ensure that your employees and dare I say you, are encouraging innovation? If you’re not coming up with new ideas, what’s to become of you? Robert Sefan writes in the Fast Company article, “Breakthrough progress often requires wide-eyed hope.” Not something we think about in business today but maybe we should!

It is encouraging that Fast Company says, “Risk of failure and collapse are always with us. But the culture of innovation across the globe is more robust than ever!”

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