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Sizing Up Those Smart Ideas

All of BusinessWeek's annual "best" lists provoke debate. But when the ranking involves something as broadly defined as "innovation," that debate can get vigorous. So it was with our annual survey on the world's "Most Innovative Companies" (Cover Story, Apr. 28). Some readers seized the opportunity to argue the relative creativity of Microsoft (MSFT) (No.5) and Apple Inc. (AAPL) (No.1 yet again). Others criticized the list for not being global enough—or applauded our foreign additions. And a few were skeptical about big companies' ability to pioneer ideas. They suggested a new list: of the most creative small-cap companies. Now there's an innovation for us to consider.

I like what Amazon.com (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos said about constraints [including frugality and scarcity] driving innovation.

Let's make sure we do not confuse a slowdown in the economy with a failure to see or understand what is really at the heart of the matter—the transition from an Industrial to an Information Age.

Screen name: Anastacio Bueno

All the companies in the article are huge. Maybe they are the most innovative now, but several didn't even exist a few years ago.

What would be cool would be a list of up-and-comers: small companies tapping into innovation from all sources—customers, suppliers, employees, and other companies—and creating the next great product or business model.

Screen name: Robert

Very interesting report. Even an emerging economy like India is doing a sizable investment in research and development. Innovate or perish is the order of the day.

Screen name: Debashish Brahma

Tata Group [No.6] and Reliance Industries [No.19 ]: Unleashed from 40 years of government control, Indian companies have barged into the elite club of the world's most innovative companies.

Screen name: Sridhar

Maybe there should be a category for the most innovative government department, where the Fed would take the cake: how to rescue the world by bailing out failing banks.

Screen name: Dinesh

I was surprised to see General Motors (GM) [No.18] on the list. I have always used GM as an example of what's wrong with the typical U.S. company. Since the 1970s, it lost customers to competitors who offered better fuel efficiency. Now, finally, it realizes what customers want, but is it too late? Also, I recommend a ranking by industry in the magazine [not just online].

Dennis Regan

PHILADELPHIA

What Wal-Mart Women Want

"The Wal-Mart (WMT) Sisterhood" (What's Next, Apr. 28) reports that teacher's aide Jennifer Brouillet is afraid the U.S. is "going to turn into Canada" if it moves toward universal health care. My husband was raised in Canada and never had problems obtaining quality health care. Yet when we lived in suburban Philadelphia, we had to wait four months for an appointment.

Access to basic health care is no less a human right than access to basic education. This country will be better off when we cast our votes based on thoughtfulness rather than baseless fear.

Katie Berkovich

CHARLOTTE, N.C.

What puzzles me is why "Wal-Mart women" support the very corporation that is driving manufacturing jobs to other countries.

Perhaps these women should examine what they can do for their country through their spending habits. Regardless of political party, the next President will not recover American manufacturing jobs without the support of Americans buying American products.

Ryan Luithly

THOUSAND OAKS, CALIF.

Solutions to a Physician Shortage

Regarding "Are There Too Many Women Doctors?" (What's Next, Apr.28): One way to stem the shortage of doctors in primary-care fields [as women M.D.s opt for flexible hours] is to create some low-cost medical schools that do not engage in research. A large part of the cost of the present medical education system goes to research activities and the employment of PhD researchers.

Dr. Pinghui Liu

BOCA RATON, FLA.

I find it perplexing that you chose the title, "Are There Too Many Women Doctors?" for an article about the worsening national shortage of physicians. Wouldn't a better headline be: "Are There Enough Male Doctors?" As the article points out, male medical students reject careers in primary care for more lucrative specialties. How about if we encourage more men coming out of medical school to specialize in the "lower-paying" family medicine and pediatric fields rather than discourage women from joining the physician workforce?

Dr. Angela Gao

FRUITA, COLO.

Dinner—and Junk Food—by the Case

A photo with "Buying Dinner By The Case" (News, Apr. 28), about people planning menus to save on gas and food costs, shows a cart that appears to be filled with Gatorade and Cheetos! Surely a comment on the sad state of [your] national diet.

Chris Gattie

BODYCOTE, LONDON

The Dangers of Groupthink

Increased productivity from collaboration comes at a cost ("White-Collar Workers Shoulder Together—Like It Or Not," InData, Apr. 28). Working in groups leads to "groupthink," in which group members ignore risks and alternatives to preserve camaraderie. This results in polarized, closed-minded, and uninformed decisions. In short, the "collaborative innovation" endorsed by this year's World Economic Forum must be approached with caution.

Evan Hertan

JAMAICA, N.Y.

They're Watching What You Eat

The course correction for obesity is on ("Hide the Doritos! Here Comes HR," What's Next, Apr. 28). None of us can afford the meteoric rise in insurance premiums. Can Kraft (KFT), Kellogg's (K), and Coca-Cola (KO) afford to serve their fare to their own employees?

MeMe Roth President National Action Against Obesity

NEW YORK

It's one thing to make sure to offer good food, but it's quite another when companies reinforce the misperception that lower weight equals better health. Science has shown that [the two] are not always strongly related. I'm overweight, yet I bike 100 or more miles a week. How does that compare with someone who is skinnier but never exercises?

Screen name: Allen


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