The 50 Most Innovative Companies?

FastCompany magazine has just published its annual list of the 50 most innovative companies. Here are the top ten:

1.  Facebook

2 (three-way tie). Amazon, Apple, Google

5. Huawei Technologies (world’s #2 telecom equipment provider)

6. First Solar (largest solar supplier in the U.S.)

7. PG&E (California-based utility)

8. Novartis (Swiss pharma giant)

9. Walmart (World’s largest retailer)

10. HP (World’s largest tech company)

I was a bit suspicious that so many of them were the “usual suspects” of information technology companies. (This is also true of #11 through #50.) Surely, other sectors of the economy are just as innovative! I looked through the issue for the methodology used for ranking: It turns out, “It doesn’t exist” (quoting from editor Robert Safian).

I still have my 2004 issue of FastCompany where W. L. Gore was ranked #1, and it’s not even on the top 50 list this time. Did Gore really drop over 50 places in the rankings of most innovative? I don’t think so. But, I respect the fact that FastCompany is in the business to sell magazines. Yet, Business Week’s annual “most innovative” ranking uses a methodology in collaboration with Boston Consulting Group…

It’s a fun issue and sheds light on how innovative companies work; but it’s probably not the best place to go for a ranking of the most innovative companies. However, as editor Safian points out, there isn’t a widely accepted set of criteria for objectively creating such a ranking. I have several previous blog posts about new attempts to develop a better measure, such as this one.

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