The Fastest Companies

Greetings. As a strategy and innovation consultant, I always look forward to Fast Company’s annual issue on “The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies.” It is a quick read and a great chance to be inspired by some of the most creative and disruptive businesses and organizations on the planet. And I would think that it should be required reading for all of us as we try to keep up in our super-fast changing economy.

Fast Company 2016

This year’s issue shows just how diverse and remarkable the practice of innovation has become as new technology companies like Buzzfeed, Airbnb, Uber, Spotify, Robinhood and others continue to re-imagine existing industries while more traditional companies like CVS Health, Universal Studios, GE, and even Taco Bell reinvent themselves in ways that bring greater value to their customers. In the case of 53-year-old CVS, a company that gained a lot of very positive publicity when it decided to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products, it is not-so-quietly morphing from a huge ($153 billion in annual revenues) drugstore chain into a one-stop retail healthcare business with its Minute Clinics, optical and hearing exams, a new focus on wellness offerings, and a new “predictive medicine” partnership with IBM.

Buzzfeed, this year’s top innovator is continuing to transform the media landscape of video, news and information, and advertising through its culture of constant learning and embracing change, a sharp focus on data-driven metrics, and a deep understanding of what made companies like Paramount Pictures and CNN connect with audiences in the past.

I often talk about the power of learning from strangers and getting outside our offices and our comfort zones to discover new insights and new business models. And while the physical and psychological act of getting up and out is a powerful part of what it takes to stretch our thinking, a quick or slow read of this issue is bound to inspire anyone with a commitment to being faster in a world that demands that we pick up the pace.

We win in business and in life when we pay attention to brilliance all around us, and when we recognize the need for speed.


A World of Creativity

Greetings.  Looking for a spark of inspiration as you work to enhance innovation in your company or organization?  If so, you might find real value in the new issue of Fast Company magazine.  Its lead story profiles the "100 Most Creative People in Business"–scanning the worlds of business, nonprofits, government, and even entertainment and the arts to highlight people who are reinventing old industries, creating new industries, unlocking the power of new technologies, and changing the way we work, play, shop, and engage each other.  It's a quick, fun, and easy read that is certain to get you thinking differently about your business and its true potential.

Fast Company June 2011

We win in business and in life when we discover a world of geniuses around us.  And when we use their ideas and insights to think in new and powerful ways.


The Most Innovative Companies

Greetings.  Fast Company magazine is out with its newest list of the world's 50 "most innovative companies" and it's a great place to look for clues to your future success.  It's also a great place to learn about companies that prosper by unlocking the real genius in all of their people.  And it doesn't matter if you work in an internet start-up or an established firm in a more traditional industry.  This year's winners operate in a wide range of markets.  Sure, the majority are either new technology firms or companies that are using new technologies to transform existing industries.  But there are also a number of leading companies that are winning by rethinking the customer experience, injecting new energy into aging brands, and reinventing products that are more than 100 years old.

So check out the latest ideas by companies like Apple, Twitter, Google, Netflix, and Facebook.  Then enjoy the brilliance of businesses like Pepsico, Nissan, Burberry, Marks & Spencer, and Trader Joe's.  It's a fascinating mix of enterprises that are joined together by a special DNA that's all about innovation, delivering unique value to customers, and creating the future.

A DNA that's within your grasp…



We win in business and in life when we dare to create new markets and reinvent established industries.  And when we constantly imagine how to deliver new and greater value to those we serve.


Creating a Corporate Newstand

Greetings.  I'm often asked to suggest the best things to read for teams that are eager to spark innovation but too busy to make it through a book.  And there are lots of great choices including a short book, a really fun book, a few chapters of a fantastic book (of which I'm partial to a couple listed below), along with a wide range of magazines and blogs.  The key is to keep reading and searching for ideas to unlock your curiosity, creativity, and sense of possibilities.  So let's think about magazines for a few moments, because I know that practically all of us love to read them.  We read them in waiting rooms, bring them along on trips, pick them up at the airport or train station, and are often excited to find one in the pocket in front of our airline seat.  And if it's a copy of the latest issue of People magazine…all the better.  Not that we'd ever actually pay to learn about the private lives of celebrities (or be caught dead reading it in the office).  But in travel mode it's a fun release.

Given our pension for quick and glossy information, why not make magazines an important and useful part of our learning and exploration?  The trick is to pick the right ones.  And here you have plenty of leeway.  Because different things spark different people.  But if I were looking for a good place to start, I'd begin by creating a small corporate "newstand."  Or at least a roving cart to push down the halls looking for takers.  And on it I'd include a bunch of interesting magazines from any number of fields or disciplines.  I might even decide to periodically "deliver" magazines to everyone I work with.  The key is to pick publications that are all about new ideas, best practices, and insights from people and places we don't normally come in contact with or find in any of our trade or industry journals.  Of course, I have my favorites–found in the modest newstand at our office.  They include:

And, of course, what office newstand would be complete without:

The real challenge is to expand your reading horizons and, in the process, to unlock your curiosity and genius.  By thinking thinking about new topics.  Seeing new perspectives.  Figuring out what really matters to people in other industries, places, and walks of life.  Imagining other possibilities.  And then starting to spark new conversations and connect the dots between different ideas and the challenges and opportunities you and your colleagues face.  Not that these magazines will hold the exact answers to your problems.  But they are likely to help you discover a more valuable question along the way.

People Cover 

We win in business and in life when we broaden our reading horizons and challenge ourselves to have fun with new and remarkable ideas. And by taking the time to curl up in a comfortable chair with a new friend who opens our eyes.

Cheers and happy reading!