Many lessons are embedded in the stories of success within Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies list. We’ve pulled out 10 of our favorites below. They all reach one key conclusion: Global innovation is bigger than ever.
1. Organizations can learn. The top two companies on this year’s list, BuzzFeed and Facebook, have thrived by embracing constant evolution in their products and in their processes. According to Fast Company, BuzzFeed’s video teams are reorganized every three months; the native ad programs it creates for marketers evolve through iterative testing; and new data metrics are developed and tweaked. It all breeds a culture of curiosity and learning, and, as CEOs Jonah Peretti and Mark Zuckerberg demonstrate, culture is strategy.
2. Tech has no monopoly on speed. CEO Brian Niccol encourages his team to, "break a little glass." The Tex-Mex chain rolls out a new menu item every five weeks; the longevity of those products depends on their market success, a mirror of the test-and-iterate approach that drives Silicon Valley. All the activity has energized the company and made the brand more relevant to its target youth customers.
3. Streaming can’t be stopped. Music consumers have shown their preference for Spotify and steaming services like it. When Netflix opened its service in more than 130 countries in one day, it was reflecting an unstoppable train that runs from YouTube to The Man in the High Castle. When BuzzFeed delivers 2.5 billion video views a month and Facebook’s monthly video views jump from 1 billion to 8 billion in just over a year, the predilection for on-demand access is undeniable.
4. Mobile is just beginning. Those devices in our pockets aren’t just a challenge to traditional media. Nor is their impact restricted to booming platforms like Uber, Airbnb, and Snapchat. New services are spawning new markets. Robinhood has knifed into the investing world; Hudl is bringing its insights to more than 100,000 sports teams; Shyp will pick up and pack anything for you, at the push of a button.
5. Old companies can be remade. Hasbro was launched a century ago in Providence, RI, yet that legacy hasn’t prevented it from unlocking new customers around the world, according to Fast Company. Additionally, GE has embraced its heritage of invention to find modern relevance, and Vail Resorts has tapped new kinds of data to energize what seemed like a settled ski business.
6. Partnerships have power. Taco Bell found its new mojo after its successful launch of Doritos Locos Tacos. BuzzFeed supercharged its reach when it embraced 30-plus outside platforms to distribute its content.
7. Communities have impact. Social media has made it easier than ever to express our individuality, fostering new communities like Black Lives Matter, which, without a budget or advertising, has generated significant impact.
8. Mission Drives Change. Sama Group is rethinking how not-for-profits are funded, while venture firm Social Capital is reimagining how funding should be deployed. John Oliver’s HBO show, produced by Sixteen String Jack has distinguished itself by attacking serious issues with humor.
9. Medical treatments are evolving fast. In the cancer arena alone, according to Fast Company, Novocure is deploying electricity, Amgen is unleashing viruses, and Bristol-Myers Squibb is enlisting a person’s own T cells to attack tumors and save lives.
10. There’s a new world out there. Self-driving cars. DNA–targeted treatments. The advances are inexorable, exciting, mind-blowing. According to Fast Company, those who embrace these transitions will have the tools to influence them.