You may recognize their brands, but these admired companies have few practices in common that would distinguish them from the rest.
Pull out the list of the "most innovative companies" from your favorite business magazine. With the exception of their brand recognition, which is the entry fee for these beauty pageants, they have few innovation practices in common that would distinguish them from the rest of the rabble, whether it's unique strategies, unusual financing, or novel ways of hiring and staffing.
The fact is that one size never fits all. What makes innovation companies unique is, well, unique. They are highly adapted for their specific situation.
Corporations spend billions of dollars on innovation training every year. Take a close look at popular leading innovation programs, and you are likely to find a wide array of distinct subjects and approaches.
While important, the problem is that these subjects don't get at the real issue that stops companies from innovating. Connecting the dots makes innovation functional.
Unlike most other forms of value, innovation doesn't belong to any one department, discipline, or region. Ask leaders in five different divisions of your company what innovation is and how it happens, and it will become clear that they are not talking about the same thing. You might have tremendous research and development, marketing, and logistics innovation and still fail miserably in the marketplace where these individual departmental functions are of no consequence.