by Patrick Hearn

For the past several years, Thomson Reuters "TR" has published a list of the top 100 innovation companies around the world. The list is similar to other reports TR does for universities. In these lists, innovation is an analytical framework that in the case of universities is based on scoring matrices such as patents filed, journal submissions and other components.  

For companies, the top list is formulated based on findings from their labs. The list itself places 8 pillars such as innovation in technology, financial soundness, management and investor confidence, legal compliance, social responsibility, reputation, environmental responsibility, and risk. Each of these are important elements of determining in fact whom the leaders in innovation from a corporate perspective are. All of this based using inferential logic (or Baysian logic). 

As important as these quantitative methods are, they are also review processes or another way of looking at it could be an accounting check (albeit it a very good one). Innovation by definition is a human and physiological/sociological process or perhaps the ability to apply wisdom derived from data, information, and knowledge.  

The ability to innovate within an organization is defined by its leadership. In a recent posting of Alé, tips and questions are provided to make the determination of whether or not you have not simply innovation but more importantly, you have an innovation process to assert leadership. This is important in a global market that is simply too fast for individuals to master unto themselves.  

This process begins in understanding yourself, with another, to a group, and to society. It continues with knowing what has been the historical commonalities of the greatest innovations in our society. It is finessed with understanding your noble purpose, how you use market forces, your business model, your customer needs, your social network and what you should pay attention to.  

Like any award list, winners should appreciate the accomplishment. At the same time, winners can also be reminded of the past 20 years how dramatically the Fortune 500 has changed. Without the core human elements of innovation methodology, any organization can be replaced.