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Are the most innovative companies also the best places to work?

Posting in Food

Would you rather work for the second most innovative company in the world, or the best company to work for, in terms of culture and management credibility?

Perhaps not surprisingly, if you happen to work at Google, you're working at both of the above...if you believe annual rankings of corporate inventiveness and workplace satisfaction. This month, management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG) released its Most Innovative Companies list, and in its most recent issue, Fortune magazine features its 100 Best Companies to Work For ranking. Now each is interesting and debatable enough on its own, of course. But to take a look at the top 10 of both rankings and compare them offers a couple of worthwhile insights.

First, let's look at the top ten Most Innovative Companies (for 2012) from BCG. It's based on a survey of 1,500 senior executives around the world (80%), as well three-year total shareholder returns (10%), three-year revenue growth (5%), and three-year margin growth (5%). [Full disclosure: when I was the Innovation Department Editor at BusinessWeek magazine, I worked directly with BCG on the strategy and questions behind the 2009 list, as well as an analysis of the ranking in BusinessWeek, then a partner with BCG on this list.]

BCG's Most Innovative Companies:

1. Apple

2. Google

3. Samsung

4. Microsoft

5. Facebook

6. IBM

7. Sony

8. Haier

9. Amazon

10. Hyundai

And now, let's look at Fortune's top 10 Best Companies to Work For (2012), based on a survey of 246,000 employees across 280 American firms, conducted by the Great Place to Work Institute. The survey's questions include those on culture, camaraderie, benefits, diversity efforts, and management's credibility, among other issues. [Full disclosure: I sometimes write for Fortune.com as a freelance contributor.]

Fortune's Best Companies to Work For:

1. Google

2. Boston Consulting Group

3. SAS Institute

4. Wegmans Food Markets

5. Edward Jones

6. NetApp

7. Camden Property Trust

8. Recreational Equipment (REI)

9. CHG Healthcare Services

10. Quicken Loans

Sure, the lists are not meant to be compared, and they represent two very different methodologies. They also reflect two very different qualities. But looking at the crossover--and honestly, I thought there would be more--Google's dominance, in terms of technological inventiveness, financial performance, and workplace satisfaction, speaks highly of how the company considers these qualities in the context of each other.

The other fascinating aspect to looking at both lists is how they cross over in terms of BCG's presence, both as the creator of a much-respected franchise with its Most Innovative Companies list and as #2 to the mighty Google as one of the best places to work. Could there be some sort of correlation? Could BCG and Google, as organizations, be somehow more able to understand innovation clearly because they take the quality of its employers' experiences at work very seriously, too?

Image: Maria Ly/Flickr

— By on January 30, 2013, 10:29 AM PST

Reena Jana

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Reena Jana has written for the New York Times, Wired, Harvard Business Review online, Fast Company, Architectural Record, Artforum, Time Out New York, Harper's Bazaar, and GQ. Previously, she was the innovation department editor at BusinessWeek. She holds degrees from Columbia University and Barnard College. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure