10 Lessons From 10 Years Of The World’s Most Innovative Companies

What we can learn from the challenges and the triumphs that have defined the last 10 years of innovation in business.

10 Lessons From 10 Years Of The World’s Most Innovative Companies

This month marks my tenth anniversary as editor of Fast Company; we are also releasing the tenth installment of our World’s Most Innovative Companies coverage. During that time, the U.S. economy has experienced its share of adversity, but what stays with me even more are the amazing achievements that have emerged from it. What follows are 10 lessons gleaned from our Most Innovative Companies coverage. I hope it inspires you to reflect on what can go right in the midst of all that is wrong—and why.


First, though, a look back at my editor’s letter from that first Most Innovative Companies issue, in early 2008, just as the Great Recession was beginning to unfold. It was a very different time, and yet echoes of that past still resonate:

I sometimes look up at an airplane flying overhead and envision what its occupants would look like if the fuselage were see-through: Hundreds of people, sitting in straight rows of cushioned seats, watching movies, typing on computers, eating and drinking, all while suspended 30,000 feet in the air and traveling at 500 miles per hour . . . It is surreal, really, and for most of human history, it would have been absurd and fantastical.

Yet this is what business can produce: the unexpected, the mind-boggling, the world-changing . . . Fast Company is dedicated to celebrating innovative businesses, and this issue celebrates the best of the best . . . We’re mindful that the U.S. economy is showing signs of weakness, that celebration is not the predominant mood in the business community today. But we’re also convinced that the only way out of whatever troubles we face is through new ideas and fresh initiatives.

Here are the top 10 innovation lessons of the last 10 years.

1. The Race Goes To The Swift.

Why Apple And Google Are Titans

2. Everybody Stumbles.

Why Facebook Beat Twitter

3. You Can’t—And Shouldn’t—Go It Alone.

Why Netflix, HBO, And Amazon Owe Their Success To Hulu

4. Competition Is A Joy.

How The Sports Industry Pioneered Advances In The Innovation Economy


This article is part of our coverage of the World’s Most Innovative Companies of 2017.

About the author

Robert Safian is the editor and managing director of The Flux Group. From 2007 through 2017, Safian oversaw Fast Company’s print, digital and live-events content, as well as its brand management and business operations.