Before you apply to be considered as one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies of 2022—and we hope you do—check out our advice on how best to approach your nomination.
FOCUS ON A PROJECT
Tell us about a particular initiative at your company. It’s not enough to state that your product or strategy is innovative. The key is to identify what’s novel in what you’re doing and delineate how and why it’s different from what’s come before.
Suppose your company has multiple related initiatives (say, several things connected to sustainability). In that case, it’s good to frame your innovation in that context and then use all the examples to bolster your case. If your company has several innovative initiatives, but they’re spread across multiple categories, our advice is to apply within the relevant categories with tailored arguments for why you’re most innovative in finance, for example, and fintech, respectively. Do not try to shoehorn both into the same submission.
BE SPECIFIC AND DEMONSTRATE IMPACT
Use details to build a strong case for innovation. What makes you most excited when you think about what you’ve developed? What are the features of what you’re doing that your customers are buzzing about? What metrics bring to life what you’re doing? Companies and their representatives routinely ask about the metrics we’re interested in. Success can be expressed with almost anything that brings your story to life, including revenue, revenue growth, user growth, customer growth, average revenue per user, same-store sales growth, impressions, and viewers—however, you measure success.
It does not have to be something that one would find in an earnings report or spreadsheet. Have you seen qualitative impacts on the larger culture or industry? Did other companies start copying you? Have respected organizations bestowed you with awards? Have customers or other groups publicly endorsed you?
CONNECT THE DOTS
There should be a clear, recent connection between the innovation and the impact of that innovation. We judge companies on a sliding scale of impact and innovation. Some companies’ innovations are so bold that they don’t need to show massive impact just yet. In other instances, the story is about the breakthrough performance of a previously introduced innovation.
TELL YOUR STORY IN A LARGER CONTEXT
We love a good story. Think about the larger conversations that are defining this year and whether and how your company and its innovations are influencing them.
For example, here are a few ongoing narratives we’re avidly following: the emergence of the metaverse, the new opportunities for investing and wealth creation and their risks, accelerating the shift to carbon-neutral or carbon-negative energy solutions, and women entrepreneurs in the region.
Is your company or the company you’re writing an application for championing a novel approach to one of these bigger societal trends? Is it reframing a debate about the future with your innovative products and strategy? The more you can make the case that you’re leading a significant change—again, with data to support it—the better your application.
INTRODUCE A NEW, COMPELLING CHARACTER
Fast Company has always believed—and celebrated—that innovation can and does come from anywhere within an organization, including a company’s customers. We have never believed nor celebrated the idea that a CEO or founder is some kind of superhero responsible for every big idea that shapes a company. When we ask who is responsible for the innovation delineated within the application, be bold enough to share the surprising, perhaps unsung, contributor who’s shaping the future. This person—or a small team—could influence our art decisions and our thinking as we put together subsequent Fast Company franchises such as Most Creative People in Business.
FINISH THE JOB
If you’re an architecture firm, completed buildings will garner more attention than renderings. In-progress ideas will certainly be considered but completing the work counts.
GIVE US A SNEAK PREVIEW
If there are new products or announcements that you know will be released soon and that could improve your case, please share this information so we can follow up to learn more.
To be very clear, we will not use info shared confidentially for any stories without your consent. If you have confidential information at the time of completing your application, you can mark it explicitly as such and we will honor that.
While we respect that business carries with it its own nomenclature and that specific industries also have their own terms of art, the more you can avoid business or industry-specific jargon in favor of plainspoken English, the more the judges can be captivated by your actual innovations and not have to weed through excess verbiage and rarified language.
BE CRISP AND CLEAR
Don’t get hung up on length. The least effective applications are often the shortest because they don’t provide enough information. Overlong applications that repeat material across questions or spend a long time sketching out the company’s history can make it harder for your story to shine. Focus on the new thing that best reflects how your company approaches innovation rather than rattling off a laundry list of initiatives.
You can find more information and start your application to be considered one of Fast Company Middle East’s Most Innovative Companies of 2022 here.
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