May 022013



Whether you have been thinking about innovation for a while or want to get a good sense of the current playing field in academia, business or non-profit, reading a few good books is a brilliant way to inspire and guide you.

There are many books out there but I can’t read them all, so here’s my humble selection of books related to innovation that I read (or listened to thanks to that have resonated with me:

The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
Whether you already work for or own a start-up or business, this is a fantastic book.
It’s very inspiring and has a ton of great, practical advice to take you to the next step.
The book is full of technical tips and information, as well as real-life stories that make the book come alive.
The central idea of the book is to develop a MVP (Minimum Viable Product) in order to get feedback from clients as early as possible. The feedback will tell you how to improve the product or “pivot” altogether toward another better/product.

The Little Black Book of Innovation: How It Works, How to Do It
There’s a saying telling us that in life there’s no short-cut but this book might prove that is wrong. It’s goal is to attempt to summarize the field of innovation. In this book, the author Scott D. Anthony strikes the right balance between clearly explaining the “state of the union” re: the theory of innovation as far as academia is concerned and his own experiences as an innovator himself and as a teacher on the topic.
Armed with wit and a gift for clearly explaining complex topic, the author does a brilliant job at making the discipline of innovation both appealing and inspiring.

The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth
If you have heard the expression “Disruptive Innovation”, you have to thank Clayton Christensen, the author of this book, for coining it. His seminal work was “The Innovator’s Dilemma” (in 1997) where he set the stage for his Disruptive Innovation theory. This more recent book is a continuation of “The Innovator’s Dilemma” where Christensen offers further thoughts on what make innovations disruptive.
Christensen being a Harvard professor, his assertions are backed by plenty of academic references (his own and others’).
The key idea is that even if a organization does everything right it will be at risk of attacks from a disruptive innovator with a “game changer” that is simpler, more accessible and more affordable.
This book tells how to guard from such attacks and/or become the disruptive innovator.
(BTW, no need to buy “The Innovator’s Dilemma” since the author summarizes it nicely in this book)

The Ten Faces of Innovation: IDEO’s Strategies for Defeating the Devil’s Advocate and Driving Creativity Throughout Your Organization
This brilliant book exposes us to the strategies that the world-famous design firm IDEO uses to foster innovative thinking, throughout its organization.
Tom Kelley, the founder of  IDEO, offers a lot of advice his this book for any organization that is serious about innovation. He masterfully mixes engaging anecdotes and business cases borrowed from his 20+ years of experience managing IDEO.
The main idea is that it takes more than one type of person to make innovation happen in an organization: from the Anthropologist—the person who goes into the field to see how customers use and respond to products, to the Caregiver who’s the foundation of human-powered innovation. Of course, one person can be more than one of those 10 faces.

Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries
The premise behind this engaging book from Peter Sims is that successful, innovative men and organizations became that way by methodically taking small, experimental steps in order to discover, test and develop new ideas.
Planning a project around one big idea is risky because it’s almost impossible to determine whether it will succeed as-is.
The approach that the author recommends is to make a series of little bets in the general direction of the initial idea. By implementing those bets, one can then learn from small failures or great wins in order to lead the idea/innovation toward an inevitable success.

Have you read any of these books? Or do you want to talk about them, please feel free to use the comment section below.

Also, do you have one or more favorite books on innovation that is not listed above? Please do share!

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