It may be only February, but thanks to Nike’s advancements in 2012 they have been deemed the No. 1 Most Innovative Company of 2013 from Fast Company. In particular, Fast Company points to the innovation of the Fuel Band and Nike Flyknit technology, as well as Nike’s constant push to anticipate the evolution of its products and take risks.
In 2012, Nike’s experimentation yielded two breakout hits. The first is the FuelBand, a $150 electronic bracelet that measures your movements throughout the day, whether you play tennis, jog, or just walk to work. The device won raves for its elegant design and a clean interface that lets users track activity with simple color cues (red for inactive; green if you’ve achieved your daily goal). Press its one button for a scrolling stock ticker of how many calories you’ve burned, the number of steps you’ve taken, and your total NikeFuel points, a proprietary metric of activity that Nike encourages you to share online. The FuelBand is the clearest sign that Nike has transformed itself into a digital force. “Nike has broken out of apparel and into tech, data, and services, which is so hard for any company to do,” says Forrester Research analyst Sarah Rotman Epps.
The other innovation is the Flyknit Racer, featherlight shoes that feel more like a sock atop a sole. Created from knit threading rather than multiple layers of fabric, it required a complete rethink of Nike’s manufacturing process. The result is a shoe that’s more environmentally friendly and could reduce long-term production costs. “Flyknit could turn the [shoe] industry on its head,” says Nike sustainability VP Hannah Jones.
To produce even one of these innovations in a given year is a rarity for any company, especially one with 44,000 employees. But Nike CEO Mark Parker knows he can’t just rely on celebrity endorsements and the power of the swoosh when confronted by big-name competitors such as Adidas and upstarts like Jawbone and Fitbit. “One of my fears is being this big, slow, constipated, bureaucratic company that’s happy with its success,” he says. “Companies fall apart when their model is so successful that it stifles thinking that challenges it. It’s like what the Joker said–‘This town needs an enema.’ When needed, you’ve got to apply that enema, so to speak.”
Every CEO says this kind of thing (minus the enema part). The difference is that Parker delivers. Last year, Nike’s annual revenue hit $24 billion, up 60% since he took over the reins as CEO in 2006. Profits are up 57%, and Nike’s market cap has more than doubled. This story is about how he has achieved that growth, and how he has driven a commitment to the company’s culture. Nike is a business with much corporate lore, that lovely, misty story of how a bunch of renegades with a waffle iron bucked the system and revolutionized an industry. But a close examination of the development of Flyknit and the FuelBand, based on interviews with top Nike executives, current and former designers, engineers, and longtime collaborators, reveals four distinct rules that guide this company, that allow it to take big risks, that push it to adapt before competitors force it to change.
Rule #1: TO DISRUPT, YOU MUST GO ALL-IN
Rule #2: ANTICIPATE A PRODUCT’S EVOLUTION
Rule #3: DIRECT YOUR PARTNERS
Rule #4: FEED COMPANY CULTURE
– For the full story, check out Fast Company. (http://www.fastcompany.com/most-innovative-companies/2013/nike)
* Repost via Nice Kicks