From the Teach-In: Participants share their favorite books on innovation

At our sold-out Teach-In gathering last month in Boston, we asked participants about the books on innovation, strategy, and change that they’ve found most useful.

Here are some of their recommendations, with summary copy from the publishers:

“The Art of Choosing” by Sheena Iyengarart-choosing

“Every day we make choices. Coke or Pepsi? Save or spend? Stay or go? Whether mundane or life-altering, these choices define us and shape our lives. Sheena Iyengar asks the difficult questions about how and why we choose: Is the desire for choice innate or bound by culture? Why do we sometimes choose against our best interests? How much control do we really have over what we choose?”

The Other Side of Innovation” by Vijay Govindarajan

“Companies can’t survive without innovating. But most put far more emphasis on generating Big Ideas than on executing them—turning ideas into actual breakthrough products, services, and process improvements… In The Other Side of Innovation, Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble reveal how to execute an innovation initiative—whether a simple project or a grand, gutsy gamble. Drawing on examples from innovators as diverse as Allstate, BMW, Timberland, and Nucor.” (Here’s our 2016 interview with the author.)

sprint-9781501121746_hrSprint” by Jay Knapp

“From three partners at Google Ventures, a unique five-day process for solving tough problems, proven at more than a hundred companies… A practical guide to answering critical business questions, Sprint is a book for teams of any size, from small startups to Fortune 100s, from teachers to nonprofits. It’s for anyone with a big opportunity, problem, or idea who needs to get answers today.”

Exponential Organizations” by Salim Ismail

“In business, performance is key. In performance, how you organize can be the key to growth. In the past five years, the business world has seen the birth of a new breed of company—the Exponential Organization—that has revolutionized how a company can accelerate its growth by using technology… Three luminaries of the business world—Salim Ismail, Yuri van Geest, and Mike Malone—have researched this phenomenon and documented ten characteristics of Exponential Organizations.”

The Innovator’s Hypothesis” by Michael SchrageInnovators Hypothesis

“What is the best way for a company to innovate? Advice recommending ‘innovation vacations’ and the luxury of failure may be wonderful for organizations with time to spend and money to waste. The Innovator’s Hypothesis addresses the innovation priorities of companies that live in the real world of limits.”

Value Proposition Design” and “Business Model Canvas” by Alex Osterwalder

“Value Proposition Design helps you tackle a core challenge of every business — creating compelling products and services customers want to buy. This practical book, paired with its online companion, will teach you the processes and tools you need to succeed.”

Business Model Generation is a handbook for visionaries, game changers, and challengers striving to defy outmoded business models and design tomorrow’s enterprises. If your organization needs to adapt to harsh new realities, but you don’t yet have a strategy that will get you out in front of your competitors, you need Business Model Generation.”

41qq7ewarvl-_sx347_bo1204203200_The First Mile” by Scott Anthony

“That first mile—where an innovation moves from an idea on paper to the market—is often plagued by failure. In fact, less than one percent of ideas launched by big companies end up having real impact. The ideas aren’t the problem. It’s the process. The First Mile focuses on the critical moment when an innovator moves from planning to reality.” (We published an excerpt from the book, “Why zombie projects must die.”)

A Beautiful Constraint” by Adam Morgan

A Beautiful Constraint: How to Transform Your Limitations Into Advantages And Why It’s Everyone’s Business is a book about everyday, practical inventiveness, designed for the constrained times in which we live. It describes how to take the kinds of issues that all of us face today―lack of time, money, resources, attention, know-how―and see in them the opportunity for transformation of oneself and one’s organization’s fortunes.”

The Challenger Sale” by Brent Adamson41wecoicvl

“What’s the secret to sales success? If you’re like most business leaders, you’d say it’s fundamentally about relationships—and you’d be wrong. The best salespeople don’t just build relationships with customers. They challenge them…Based on an exhaustive study of thousands of sales reps across multiple industries and geographies, The Challenger Sale argues that classic relationship building is a losing approach, especially when it comes to selling complex, large-scale business-to-business solutions.”

Switch: How to Change Things when Change is Hard” by Dan Heath, Chip Heath

“Why is it so hard to make lasting changes in our companies, in our communities, and in our own lives? The primary obstacle is a conflict that’s built into our brains, say Chip and Dan Heath, authors of the critically acclaimed bestseller Made to Stick…In Switch, the Heaths show how everyday people—employees and managers, parents and nurses—have united both minds and, as a result, achieved dramatic results.”

nudge-coverNudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness” by Cass Sunstein

Nudge is about choices—how we make them and how we can make better ones. Drawing on decades of research in the fields of behavioral science and economics, authors Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein offer a new perspective on preventing the countless mistakes we make—ill-advised personal investments, consumption of unhealthy foods, neglect of our natural resources—and show us how sensible “choice architecture” can successfully nudge people toward the best decisions.”

Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman

“In the international bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical.”

Creativity, Inc.” by Ed Catmull41xs4vbctpl-_sx327_bo1204203200_

Creativity, Inc. is a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights, a manual for anyone who strives for originality, and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation—into the meetings, postmortems, and “Braintrust” sessions where some of the most successful films in history are made.”

Competing Against Luck,” by Clay Christensen

“The foremost authority on innovation and growth presents a path-breaking book every company needs to transform innovation from a game of chance to one in which they develop products and services customers not only want to buy, but are willing to pay premium prices for. After years of research, Christensen and his co-authors have come to one critical conclusion: our long held maxim–that understanding the customer is the crux of innovation–is wrong. Customers don’t buy products or services; they “hire” them to do a job. Understanding customers does not drive innovation success, he argues. (Read an exclusive excerpt on Innovation Leader.)

41tbplhfqolZone to Win: Organizing to Compete in an Age of Disruption” by Geoffrey Moore

“Zone to Win…[offers] a practical manual to address the challenge large enterprises face when they seek to add a new line of business to their established portfolio. Focused on spurring next-generation growth, guiding mergers and acquisitions, and embracing disruption and innovation, Zone to Win is a high-powered tool for driving your company above and beyond its limitations, its definitions of success, and ultimately, its competitors.”

The Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World” by Adam Grant

“In Originals, [Adam Grant]… addresses the challenge of improving the world… from the perspective of becoming original: choosing to champion novel ideas and values that go against the grain, battle conformity, and buck outdated traditions. How can we originate new ideas, policies, and practices without risking it all?”

Thinking in New Boxes” by Luc De Brabandere and Alan Iny51ik7ljl6l-_sx328_bo1204203200_

“To make sense of the world, we all rely on assumptions, on models—on what Luc de Brabandere and Alan Iny call “boxes.” If we are unaware of our boxes, they can blind us to risks and opportunities. This innovative book challenges everything you thought you knew about business creativity by breaking creativity down into five steps.”

Lead the Work” by David Craig Creelman

Lead the Work takes an incisive look at the evolving nature of work, and how it’s affecting management and productivity at the organizational level. Where getting things done once meant assigning it to an employee, today’s leaders are increasingly at risk if they fail to recognize that talent can float into and out of an organization.”

second-machine-age1389195493The Second Machine Age” by Andrew McAfee

“In The Second Machine Age MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee―two thinkers at the forefront of their field―reveal the forces driving the reinvention of our lives and our economy. As the full impact of digital technologies is felt, we will realize immense bounty in the form of dazzling personal technology, advanced infrastructure, and near-boundless access to the cultural items that enrich our lives.”

 


Do you have a favorite innovation book? Post a comment below, and we hope to see you at a future Innovation Leader gathering! Next up is San Francisco in February 2017.

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