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The World's Most Innovative Companies

The Boston Consulting Group and BusinessWeek tell us that these are the 100 most innovative companies in the world:

Rank Company
1 Apple
2 Google
3 3M
4 Toyota
5 Microsoft
6 General Electric
7 Procter & Gamble
8 Nokia
9 Starbucks
10 IBM
11 Virgin
12 Samsung
13 Sony
14 Dell
15 IDEO
16 BMW
17 Intel
18 eBay
19 IKEA
20 Wal-Mart
21 Amazon
22 Target
23 Honda
24 Research In Motion
25 Southwest
26 Porsche
27 Genentech
28 Cisco
29 Nike
30 Motorola
31 DaimlerChrysler
32 Infosys
33 Ryanair
34 Pixar
35 SonyEricsson
36 Whole Foods
37 Capital One
38 Tesco
39 Danone
40 BP
41 PepsiCo
42 Hewlett Packard
43 Disney
44 jetBlue
45 W.L. Gore & Associates
46 Skype Technologies
47 FedEx
48 Bang & Olufsen
49 Renault
50 L'Oreal
51 ExxonMobil
52 Siemens
53 Johnson & Johnson
54 Shell
55 Pfizer
56 Singapore Airlines
57 Nissan
58 DuPont
59 Zara
60 TiVo
61 Yahoo!
62 Macquarie Bank
63 Audi
64 Harley Davidson
65 Progressive Insurance
66 Volvo
67 Philips Electronics
68 ING Bank
69 Nestle
70 Boeing
71 Matsushita Electric Industrial
72 easyJet
73 UPS
74 Coca-Cola
75 Cirque du Soleil (tied)
75 McKinsey (tied)
75 Woolworths (tied)
78 Hutchison Telecommunications
79 Salesforce.com
80 ACS
81 ITC
82 Time Warner
83 Danaher
84 Costco Wholesale
85 LG Electronics
86 bankinter
87 Amgen
88 Caterpillar
89 Accenture
90 SAP
91 SK Telecom
92 Home Depot
93 LVMH
94 Gap
95 Unilever
96 Goldman Sachs
97 John Deere & Co.
98 Whirlpool
99 Entel
100 McDonald's

To me this makes no sense. This is in fact a list of the world's most innovative dinosaurs. Massive companies which are still able to create value using new ideas. But these companies (w/ the exception of IDEO and a few others) are NOT at the forefront of innovation. Rather, that honor belongs to small companies, often at the periphery, which introduce the dinosaurs to these innovations.

Furthermore, innovation is relative, and needs to be measured in the industry or marketspace of the company. IDEO is more innovative than McDonald's in absolute terms, but what really matters is how innovative McDonald's is against its competitors.

What I enjoyed was the cover story:

Today, innovation is about much more than new products. It is about reinventing business processes and building entirely new markets that meet untapped customer needs. Most important, as the Internet and globalization widen the pool of new ideas, it's about selecting and executing the right ideas and bringing them to market in record time.

In the 1990s, innovation was about technology and control of quality and cost. Today, it's about taking corporate organizations built for efficiency and rewiring them for creativity and growth. "There are a lot of different things that fall under the rubric of innovation," says Vijay Govindarajan, a professor at Dartmouth College's Tuck School of Business and author of Ten Rules for Strategic Innovators: From Idea to Execution. "Innovation does not have to have anything to do with technology."

Here's an article from Tom Davenport on the types of innovation. I think it helps make the point that product innovation is just one type of innovation.

Another great insight comes to us from John Hagel, who talks about the limits of western thinking in his critique of Gary Hamel's latest thinking. Hagel tells us to focus on understanding the continuous management innovations across enterprises that are emerging in Asia.

Question: How does one link innovation to brand? to shareholder value? to sustainability? Branding, design, eco-imagination. They're all linked...


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