What Are the Five Traits of Highly Innovative Companies?

Posted by: Michael Arndt on December 4, 2008

I recently had a chance to talk with Rajesh Chandy, a marketing professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management and co-author of a new study on corporate innovation. He and his fellow researchers, Gerard Tellis of the University of Southern California and Jaideep Prabhu of Cambridge University, find that the most important factor in a company’s inventiveness is its corporate culture. That itself may not be a shocker.

But as we talked, I learned that Chandy & Co. had insights that were, well, insightful. Their research uncovered five attributes that these innovative companies generally shared. One is that the chief executives at these businesses are more focused on the future than typical CEOs. And how do the researchers know this? By toting up the number of "will" sentences in the chiefs' communications, as in, "We will prosper if we think ahead."

You can learn what the other four commonalities are--and what other factors don't make much of a difference in innovation--by listening to a podcast I did with Chandy.

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What comes next? The Bloomberg Businessweek Innovation and Design blog chronicles new tools for creativity and collaboration, innovation case studies in both the corporate and social sectors, and the new ideas that have the power to change the way things have always been done.

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