Common features of successful, innovative and speedy companies like Richard Branson's Virgin group and Google include;
At their Fingertips
"The Internet has become ubiquitous, so companies can connect with talent anywhere in the blink of an eye, inside or outside the company. Open-source software can be plucked off the shelf to become the foundation of new software programs or Web sites. Algorithms can be used to slice and dice market information and spot new trends.
Perhaps most important, today's fleet companies are embracing a management approach that would have been heresy just a decade ago: If you don't fail occasionally, you're not pushing hard enough. Executives tend to try lots of things, expecting a number of them to flop. It doesn't matter as long as you produce a steady stream of hits. Even losers can burnish a company's reputation for innovation if they're seen as exciting experiments. "It's not just O.K. to fail; it's imperative to fail," says Seth Godin, a marketing expert and author of several books, including Unleashing the Ideavirus."
Companies are reaching and stretching out toward increasingly distant and strange opportunities, knowing that failure is inevitable in these new arenas.
Businessweek's strategies for finding quality new opportunities included;
Finding new ways to spot hits
"Electronics retailer Best Buy Co. has begun checking with venture capitalists to find out what their startups are working on. Procter & Gamble Co. uses online networks to get in touch with thousands of experts worldwide."
P&G highlights a particular finding from a little known Italian professor through the internet which allowed it to print jokes onto pringles.
Keeping your Launch Team Agile
This example seems lacking in strong case studies... but the description of Raving Brands and their "SWAT team in chinos and polo shirts" is good for a laugh at least.
Breaking your unwritten Rules
I'm not sure if this is supposed to be a list of features of newly successful companies or ancient cliches... Think outside the box, anyone?
Hand off tasks to Specialists
Anyone who needs to be told to outsource should really be trying to invest in speedy companies, not become one.
Once you have it right, repeat
Hm... Apparently Franchising works. Who knew.
Nothing amazing, but some of the case studies bear thought. I'll be keeping my eye on a few of these companies to see what real, new strategies they pick up and whether they thrive or die based on those.