2007 Profit Innovation Awards

Cutting-edge companies are open to innovation in every aspect of their operations.

Innovation. Savvy companies like General Electric (GE), Google, Starbucks, Toyota Motor Sales USA all know that innovation is critical to help companies grow in every aspect of their organization. Read how each of these firms is putting innovation into practice.

GE credits its "Imagination Breakthrough" program for sparking creative ideas. Each month CEO Jeff Immelt reviews between 8 and 12 proposals deemed worthy of competing for internal "venture capital." The deciding factor is whether an idea has potential to generate US$100 million a year. The company generates about US$3 billion in annual revenue from portfolio of projects generated by the program. At the same time, GE's financial executives follow solid procedures, routines, and controls so that money is not spread around randomly without keeping track of it.

Google is a multibillion-dollar company that grew by 70 percent in the third quarter of 2006 and has a goal to maintain its phenomenal growth rates globally in terms of revenues, hiring, numbers of subsidiaries, and investments in capital expenditures. The firm has a rigorous set of financial planning and analysis tools and accounting controls that allow it to track and monitor the key performance indicators for its business.

For its part, innovation is part of Starbuck's overall measure of the success of its business. The company works at a small level to test the technology of potential innovations, then the operational feasibility, and then customer insights starting first with one store, then 100, then 500 before taking the innovation company-wide. Starbucks also realizes that to be a high-growth company, they have to make long-term investments ahead of the curve.

Toyota Motor Sales USA also has its eye on innovation. The company has a recognition program that rewards individuals for ideas, large or small, that lead to enhanced customer service, revenue generation, cost efficiency, or people development. However, Toyota keeps a sharp on key performance indicators that are measure internally with external monitoring, as well. Toyota wants to expand efficiencies and allocate the correct resources to support profitable growth that is sustainable.


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