Jason Jennings on the World’s Most Innovative and Productive Companies

By Dora Smith


The closing keynote for the Innovation Leadership Summit was Jason Jennings, an avid researcher and author of numerous business books.

In his research, Jason has studied data on 120,000 companies. He looks at metrics like revenue per employee and return on assets and investing capital. For one of his sales books, he looked at 72,000 companies. He found 120 that had consistently grown revenues by double digits for more than 10 years – but only 20 that had done so with double digit profits as well.

From that research he highlighted these five companies that stand out as leaders:

  • IKEA – they were the first  in their category. While the average furniture company captures $400,000 in revenue per employee, they bring in $2 million per employee annually.

  • Smuckers – They’ve grown tenfold from $500 million per year to $5 billion by expanding their product line and brand.

  • Staples – They are on track to reach $42 billion in revenues this year due in a large part to their employees thinking and acting like owners.

  • Koch Industries – they are the world’s largest private company with approximately $120 billion annually. Their CEO asks his business units two key questions each year: have you created authentic value and have you been a good steward of capital.

  • Steelmaker Nucor – Jason thinks they are most innovative company in world.

Jason shared these key leadership characteristics for innovative companies:

  • Innovative companies have a cause. This is not a mission statement. It’s the non-financial reason for doing what you’re doing. He noted causes go beyond a goal. They provide a noble purpose, fuel passion and drive momentum

  • Innovative companies let go. He shares an analogy of catching monkeys. The monkey wouldn’t get caught if he could just let go of the gourd trap. Jason said you need to be able to let go of yesterday’s breadwinners. Ego often gets in the way.

  • Innovative companies make certain that everyone within the organization knows the strategy. Some companies protect their strategies with no competes. Others, like Smuckers, willing share 80-page strategy documents.

  • Innovative companies make certain that everyone within the organization thinks and acts like an owner.

  • Innovative companies are stewards. The share information, are accessible, and keep their hands dirty. He noted leaders who are stewards spend at least 50 percent time of their time with customers. They are coaches and mentors and feel called to serve.

It was the kind of motivational speaker the executives in attendance could connect with. He had data to back up his assertions and like many of the great leaders he talked about, he told great stories.

One of the things I liked about Jason’s approach to speaking at an event like this is that he did his homework. He had interviewed several of our customers ahead of time. He also didn’t just fly for his speaking slot. He attended all of yesterday’s event and brought in things he saw in the PLM stories yesterday to his presentation today.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at