Finding the Balance Between Innovation and Practicality

What’s the new workforce goal? It’s not about productivity, efficiency, or focus; it’s all about innovation. Not only has innovation quickly become one of the most popular buzzwords in America (and throughout the world); it has completely revolutionized the way businesses approach everything from maintaining their workforce to establishing a corporate culture.

But, in a landscape that changes just as drastically as it began, how can you recognize the line between idealistic innovation and practicality? You have to wonder – is innovation all it’s chalked up to be? Or are we living in an innovation-centric society that is more focused on creating something new, rather than creating something that solves a problem?

According to the experts, there is no set formula for success. Rather, most suggest that acquiring the entrepreneurial skills and qualities of Silicon Valley; zeroing in on your target market’s current – and most importantly – future needs; and thinking at the big-picture level are all crucial components that drastically increase your chances of innovation success. Today, nearly 2,000 LinkedIn members call themselves “chief innovation officer”, while more than 71,000 LinkedIn users include “innovation” or “innovator” in their title.

Innovation has saturated every industry. Everywhere you turn, there is a shifting landscape and ever-changing ideology of how to find the best workforce. It’s not just about know-how anymore – it’s about innate talent. Innovative companies aren’t necessarily focused on pedigree; rather they recognize the capabilities of employees and are willing to hire them for their innovative potential, rather than their real-world experience.

Innovation can come in many forms; it can be organically created, or it can be manipulated. Manipulating innovation is all about mobilizing staff to recognize novelty and broaden the way that they define their role and the company in general.

From startups to large, established corporations, everyone continues to experiment with innovation in an effort to find the secret to success. Companies like Best Buy actually invest their time and money in experimental ventures, examining a wide variety of technologies and the likelihood that customers will adopt and use them.

Part of why innovation has had such an unprecedented rate of adoption among many of the world’s leading companies comes down to cold, hard facts. A recent study suggests that after calculating revenue and profit-per-employee, companies that are centered on innovation generate up to 15 times more revenues than those who retain a stronger focus on productivity. While no one knows for sure exactly what leads to that billion-dollar idea, one thing is for sure: every successful venture begins with a vision.

Below is a ranking of the top 10 most innovative companies in 2014, according to Forbes magazine (

Rank Company Country 12-Month Sales Growth (%) 5-Year Annualized Total Return (%) Innovation Premium*
1 United States 35.6 24.1 75.9
2 Alexion Pharmaceuticals United States 46.7 46.2 71.4
3 ARM Holdings United Kingdom 14.8 37.7 65.6
4 Unilever Indonesia Indonesia 12.0 26.6 65.1
5 Regeneron Pharmaceuticals United States 43.6 67.0 64.7
6 United States 22.3 19.5 62.4
7 BioMarin Pharmaceutical United States 20.2 25.7 58.9
8 CP All Thailand 71.6 33.7 57.8
9 VMware United States 15.0 17.6 57.6
10 Aspen Pharmacare Holdings South Africa 31.3 57.1


Could your company or organization be on next year’s list? With some out-of-the-box thinking it definitely could.

© Michael Tchong   All rights reserved.


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