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How to write a successful Best Workplaces for Innovators application

Get the attention of the editors who’ll decide the 2020 honorees by following these 7 tips.

How to write a successful Best Workplaces for Innovators application
[Photo: LightFieldStudios/iStock]

Before you apply to be considered as one of Fast Company’s Best Workplaces for Innovators in 2020, study our advice for making the strongest case possible for your organization.

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Get real

Jargon alone won’t win you any awards. We’re looking for companies that do more than just talk the talk.

Be current

Focus on a recent or ongoing example. We’re looking for current hotbeds of innovation, organizations that are working to sustain a creative culture and aren’t resting on the laurels of a handful of breakthroughs a decade ago.

Be specific

We’re looking to honor companies that are accomplishing real innovation, not merely laying the groundwork for future breakthroughs. In other words, real projects with tangible results.

Be precise

We want details. Who did what, when and how? How’d the idea come about? What initial hurdles needed to be overcome? How big was the team? How long did it take? How much did it cost?

Emphasize outcomes

Tell us exactly what was accomplished and what it means. What are the implications for the company, the industry, the broader world?

Be democratic

Your big idea may have originated in the c-suite or with an intern, but (full disclosure) we’re a bit biased toward ideas that come from the bottom up, from surprising sources, because a) they’re more surprising and make for better stories, and b) they are more indicative of a pervasive culture of innovation that rewards exploration at all levels. That said, wherever the idea originated, the emphasis should be on the quality of the innovation, the rigor with which it was pursued, and the inclusivity of the effort to bring the idea to fruition.

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Tell a story

Exhaustive lists of initiatives are boring. Pick a project that seems most emblematic of your own particular culture of innovation and tell the story. (See Be precise and Be democratic above.) You can always include at the end of your example a quick list of other significant recent efforts that have benefited from the same culture.

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About the author

Noted expert on nicotine gum chewing and Hawkeye wrestling fan, Jay Woodruff is a contributing editor at Fast Company. After helping launch the quarterly DoubleTake, he joined Esquire and later held senior editorial positions at Entertainment Weekly and oversaw digital at Maxim, Blender and Stuff

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