Innovating in the Right Places?

It’s a funny old world.

Here’s an article I spotted some weeks ago from Fast Company in which they set out to recognise the world’s 50 most innovative companies for 2015:

Fast Company – 50 Most Innovative Companies
(Click on the link to read and review the 50 companies)

Please take a look at the list before reading on.

First off, let’s excuse the USA-centricity of the list – that’s kind of inevitable! Then, I ask you to think about two things that have been troubling me since I went through this list a few times;

a) In the Western (wealthy economies) world, populations are aging – and quite fast. The baby boomers are reaching retirement in vast numbers, living longer, but not having looked after themselves so well along the way, not always in the best condition!

And yet, when you look through this list of 50 companies how many could really be said to be innovating for this demographic? How many are grasping the opportunities to bring enhanced quality of light in the older years (whilst also, I’m sure, they would make a great deal of money from these people)? It seems that somehow serving this burgeoning population of oldies just doesn’t get innovative people excited enough to want to do great work for them – even though the money would surely be good.

b) Putting aside those that relate to passive leisure (and arguably the nonconstructive wasting of time) such as HBO, Netflix etc. and those whose products or services impact all age ranges (Google, Apple) there are so few companies in the list who can be said to be innovating for future generations, for children or, more particularly, for the radical changes needed in how tomorrow’s society learns and is educated.

Is this just a reflection of the fact that Industry and the world of commerce is still so hell-bent on the short term, driven and motivated by desire for quick money, the quarterly P&L and instant results, or do we just have a generation of innovators who are plain selfish and can’t be bothered to apply themselves for the future?

In similar vein and again with the future as much as the present in mind, I’d have been much happier to see some organisations that were making significant contributions to solving or addressing environmental issues.

Hmmmm.

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