The Best Books, Podcasts, and Resources on Corporate Innovation

At various Innovation Leader events, we’ve asked participants to share the books, podcasts, and resources on innovation and strategy that they’ve found most useful. Most recently, we put it to a group of a dozen executives who participated in our 2018 New York Field Study.

Here’s the master list of their recommendations:

Books

Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick: People, Probabilities, and Big Moves to Beat the Odds” by Chris Bradley, Martin Hirt, and Sven Smit

“Some companies do achieve real hockey stick performance: but just 1-in-12 jump from the middle tier to the top over a ten year period. This does not happen by magic—there is an empirically-backed science to improve your odds of success by capitalizing on your endowment, riding the right trends, and most importantly, making a few big moves.”

Topple: The End of the Firm-Based Strategy and the Rise of New Models for Explosive Growth” by Ralph Welborn and Sajan Pillai

“The objective of Ralph and Sajan’s book is straight-forward: to help organizations understand what business ecosystems are, what makes them different, and how to take advantage of them so that they can identify and capture new sources of value in new ways.”

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing ” by Dan Pink

“Drawing on a rich trove of research from psychology, biology, and economics, Pink reveals how best to live, work, and succeed. How can we use the hidden patterns of the day to build the ideal schedule? Why do certain breaks dramatically improve student test scores? How can we turn a stumbling beginning into a fresh start? Why should we avoid going to the hospital in the afternoon? Why is singing in time with other people as good for you as exercise? And what is the ideal time to quit a job, switch careers, or get married?”

“The Chimp Paradox” by Dr. Steve Peters

“Do you sabotage your own happiness and success? Are you struggling to make sense of yourself? Do your emotions sometimes dictate your life? Dr. Steve Peters explains that we all have a being within our minds that can wreak havoc on every aspect of our lives—be it business or personal. He calls this being “the chimp,” and it can work either for you or against you. The challenge comes when we try to tame the chimp, and persuade it to do our bidding.”

Pivot: How Top Entrepreneurs Adapt” by Remy Arteaga, Joanne Hyland

“Every day, business and corporate startups take action based on assumptions. Yet these assumptions are based largely on guesswork that leads to everything from costly mistakes to the failure of ventures. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome these issues and excel in your business endeavors—and this book will show you how. Engaging and informative, Pivot provides entrepreneurs with practical guidance for achieving success in corporate ventures as well as new startups.”

Design: The Invention of Desire” by Jessica Helfand

“Design has always prided itself on being relevant to the world it serves, but interest in design was once limited to a small community of design professionals. Today, books on “design thinking” are best sellers, and computer and Web-based tools have expanded the definition of who practices design. Looking at objects, letterforms, experiences, and even theatrical performances, award-winning author Jessica Helfand asserts that understanding design’s purpose is more crucial than ever.”

Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation” by Linda Hill, Greg Brandeau, Emily Truelove, and Kent Lineback

“You might think the key to innovation is attracting exceptional creative talent. Or making the right investments. Or breaking down organizational silos. All of these things may help—but there’s only one way to ensure sustained innovation: you need to lead it—and with a special kind of leadership. Collective Genius shows you how.”

An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization” by Robert Kegen and Lisa Laskow Lahey

“What if a company did everything in its power to create a culture in which everyone—not just select ‘high potentials’—could overcome their own internal barriers to change and use errors and vulnerabilities as prime opportunities for personal and company growth?”

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable” by Patrick Lencioni

“Lencioni reveals the five dysfunctions which go to the very heart of why teams even the best ones-often struggle. He outlines a powerful model and actionable steps that can be used to overcome these common hurdles and build a cohesive, effective team. Just as with his other books, Lencioni has written a compelling fable with a powerful yet deceptively simple message for all those who strive to be exceptional team leaders.”

Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity” by Hugh MacLeod

“When Hugh MacLeod was a struggling young copywriter living in a YMCA, he started to doodle on the backs of business cards while sitting at a bar. Those cartoons eventually led to a popular blog-gapingvoid.com-and a reputation for pithy insight and humor, in both words and pictures. MacLeod has opinions on everything from marketing to the meaning of life, but one of his main subjects is creativity… Ignore Everybody expands on MacLeod’s sharpest insights, wittiest cartoons, and most useful advice.”

Start with Why” by Simon Sinek

“In 2009, Simon Sinek started a movement to help people become more inspired at work, and in turn inspire their colleagues and customers. Since then, millions have been touched by the power of his ideas…START WITH WHY shows that the leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world all think, act, and communicate the same way — and it’s the opposite of what everyone else does.”

Switch: How to Change Things when Change is Hard” by Dan Heath and 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.”

The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

“While human lives are endlessly variable, our most memorable positive moments are dominated by four elements: elevation, insight, pride, and connection. If we embrace these elements, we can conjure more moments that matter. What if a teacher could design a lesson that he knew his students would remember twenty years later? What if a manager knew how to create an experience that would delight customers? What if you had a better sense of how to create memories that matter for your children?”

The Founder’s Mentality: How to Overcome the Predictable Crises of Growth ” by Chris Zook and James Allen

“Companies experience a set of predictable internal crises, at predictable stages, as they grow. Even for healthy companies, these crises, if not managed properly, stifle the ability to grow further—and can actively lead to decline.”

“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.)

The Innovation Blind Spot” by Ross Baird

“In The Innovation Blind Spot, entrepreneur and venture capitalist Ross Baird argues that the innovations that truly matter don’t see the light of day—for reasons entirely of our own making. A handful of people in a handful of cities are deciding, behind closed doors, which entrepreneurs get a shot to succeed. And most investors are what Baird calls ‘two-pocket thinkers’ — artificially separating their charitable work from their day job of making a profit. The resulting system creates rising income inequality, stifled entrepreneurial ambition, social distrust, and political uncertainty.”

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.”

The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators” by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and Clay Christensen

“By identifying behaviors of the world’s best innovators—from leaders at Amazon and Apple to those at Google, Skype, and Virgin Group—the authors outline five discovery skills that distinguish innovative entrepreneurs and executives from ordinary managers: Associating, Questioning, Observing, Networking, and Experimenting.”

Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions” by Dan Ariely

“From drinking coffee to losing weight, from buying a car to choosing a romantic partner, we consistently overpay, underestimate, and procrastinate. Yet these misguided behaviors are neither random nor senseless. They’re systematic and predictable—making us predictably irrational.”

The Innovator’s Field Guide: Market Tested Methods and Frameworks to Help You Meet Your Innovation Challenges” by
Peter Skarzynski and David Crosswhite

“t is well recognized that succeeding at innovation is fundamental in today’s hyper-competitive global marketplace. It is the only way to outperform current and emerging competitors sustainably. But what we call ‘innovation’ is messy and difficult and too often lacks the rigor and discipline of other management processes. The Innovator’s Field Guide changes that. It is a practical guide that moves beyond the ‘why’ to the ‘how’ of making innovation happen, for leaders and practitioners inside organizations of all sizes..”

The Medici Effect” by Frans Johansson

“Why do so many world-changing insights come from people with little or no related experience? Charles Darwin was a geologist when he proposed the theory of evolution. And it was an astronomer who finally explained what happened to the dinosaurs. Frans Johansson’s The Medici Effect shows how breakthrough ideas most often occur when we bring concepts from one field into a new, unfamiliar territory, and offers examples on how we can turn the ideas we discover into path-breaking innovations.”

The Click Moment: Seizing Opportunity in an Unpredictable World” by Frans Johansson

“In the story of every great company and career, there is one defining moment when luck and skill collide. This book is about making that moment happen. Johansson uses stories from throughout history to illustrate the specific actions we can take to create more click moments, place lots of high-potential bets, open ourselves up to chance encounters, and harness the complex forces of success that follow.”

The Four Lenses of Innovation: A Power Tool for Creative Thinking” by Rowan Gibson

“Contrary to popular belief, innovation is not some mystical art that’s forbidden to mere mortals. The Four Lenses of Innovation thoroughly debunks this pervasive myth by delivering what we’ve long been hoping for: the news that innovation is systematic, it’s methodical, and we can all achieve it.”

Unleashing Innovation: How Whirlpool Transformed an Industry” by Nancy Tennant and Deborah Duarte

“Unleashing Innovation tells the inside story of one of the most successful innovation turnarounds in American history. Nancy Tennant Snyder and coauthor Deborah L. Duarte reveal how Whirlpool undertook one of the largest change efforts in corporate history and show how innovation was embedded throughout the company, which ultimately led to bottom-line results.”

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol S. Dweck

In this book, Dweck “shows how success in school, work, sports, the arts, and almost every area of human endeavor can be dramatically influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities. People with a fixed mindset—those who believe that abilities are fixed—are less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset—those who believe that abilities can be developed. Mindset reveals how great parents, teachers, managers, and athletes can put this idea to use to foster outstanding accomplishment.”

Learn Better: Mastering the Skills for Success in Life, Business, and School, or, How to Become an Expert in Just About Anything” by Ulrich Boser

“Boser maps out the new science of learning, showing how simple techniques like comprehension check-ins and making material personally relatable can help people gain expertise in dramatically better ways. He covers six key steps to help you “learn how to learn,” all illuminated with fascinating stories like how Jackson Pollock developed his unique painting style and why an ancient Japanese counting device allows kids to do math at superhuman speeds. .”

The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries

“Most startups fail. But many of those failures are preventable.  The Lean Startup is a new approach being adopted across the globe, changing the way companies are built and new products are launched…Rather than wasting time creating elaborate business plans, The Lean Startup offers entrepreneurs – in companies of all sizes – a way to test their vision continuously, to adapt and adjust before it’s too late.”

Innovation Games” by Luke Hohmann

“The toughest part of innovation? Accurately predicting what customers want, need, and will pay for. Even if you ask them, they often can’t explain what they want. Now, there’s a breakthrough solution: Innovation Games. Drawing on his software product strategy and product management consulting experience, Luke Hohmann has created twelve games that help you uncover your customers’ true, hidden needs and desires.”

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.”

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.”


The Innovation Paradox” by Tony Davila

“For more than twenty years, major innovations―the kind that transform industries and even societies―seem to have come almost exclusively from startups, despite massive efforts and millions of dollars spent by established companies. Tony Davila and Marc Epstein, authors of the bestselling Making Innovation Work, say the problem is that the very processes and structures responsible for established companies’ enduring success prevent them from developing breakthroughs. This is the innovation paradox.”

“Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, & Changemakers” by Dave Gray

“Great things don’t happen in a vacuum. But creating an environment for creative thinking and innovation can be a daunting challenge. How can you make it happen at your company? The answer may surprise you: gamestorming.This book includes more than 80 games to help you break down barriers, communicate better, and generate new ideas, insights, and strategies.”

Design For How People Learn” by Julie Dirksen

“In Design For How People Learn, you’ll discover how to use the key principles behind learning, memory, and attention to create materials that enable your audience to both gain and retain the knowledge and skills you’re sharing. Using accessible visual metaphors and concrete methods and examples, Design For How People Learn will teach you how to leverage the fundamental concepts of instructional design both to improve your own learning and to engage your audience.”

Podcasts

Revisionist History”  by Malcolm Gladwell

Revisionist History is a new podcast from Malcolm Gladwell and Panoply Media. Each week for 10 weeks, Revisionist History will go back and reinterpret something from the past: an event, a person, an idea. Something overlooked. Something misunderstood.”

Radiolab”

Radiolab is a show about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.”

How I Built This” by NPR

How I Built This is a podcast about innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists, and the stories behind the movements they built. Each episode is a narrative journey marked by triumphs, failures, serendipity and insight — told by the founders of some of the world’s best known companies and brands.”

Jennifer Brown Podcast” by Jennifer Brown

“Jennifer Brown is an award-winning entrepreneur, dynamic speaker and diversity and inclusion expert. She is the founder, president and CEO of Jennifer Brown Consulting, LLC (JBC), and is a passionate social equality advocate committed to helping leaders foster healthier and therefore more productive workplace cultures.”

The Design of Business by Design Observer

“How design works within complex organizations to shape decisions, products, and more. Guests include clients from many industries and designers in many fields. Recorded at the Yale School of Management.”

Steve Blank Podcast by Steve Blank

“Steve Blank, eight-time entrepreneur and now a business school professor at Stanford, Columbia and Berkeley, shares his hard-won wisdom as he pioneers entrepreneurship as a management science, combining Customer Development, Business Model Design and Agile Development. The conclusion? Startups are simply not small versions of large companies! Startups are actually temporary organizations designed to search for a scalable and repeatable business model.”

Entrepreneurial Spirit in the Enterprise Podcast” by Moves the Needle

“Join us as we interview leaders responsible for igniting and scaling entrepreneurial action within their organizations so that you can drive the change your organization needs.”

Resources & Courses

Pixar in a Box by Khan Academy

“Pixar in a Box is a behind-the-scenes look at how Pixar artists do their jobs. You will be able to animate bouncing balls, build a swarm of robots, and make virtual fireworks explode. The subjects you learn in school — math, science, computer science, and humanities — are used every day to create amazing movies at Pixar.”

Smart Blogger by Jon Morrow

“So, you have a blog. (Or you’re thinking about starting one.) But you’re not an average blogger. Blogging is more than just a fun hobby for you. Much more. You’re excited about where it could lead you because you know the potential is huge. Successful bloggers land book deals, launch online businesses, attract high-paying clients, become recognized thought leaders… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But it doesn’t happen overnight. And if you don’t have the right approach, it won’t happen at all. That’s why smart bloggers know where they want to go, and how to find the right strategies to get there.”

Customer Decision Journey” by Lynda.com

“The customer decision journey is a time-tested tool for connecting your brand with customers and differentiating your company from the competition. But like any tool, it has evolved with time. Learn how the decision journey has developed, with digital as the catalyst, and why it’s more critical than ever to your business. Dina Shapiro walks you through the process of creating buyer personas, defining and mapping customer touchpoints, and aligning your marketing message to the customer decision journey.”

The Zachman Framework by John A. Zachman

“The Zachman Framework  is a schema – the intersection between two historical classifications that have been in use for literally thousands of years. The first is the fundamentals of communication found in the primitive interrogatives: What, How, When, Who, Where, and Why. It is the integration of answers to these questions that enables the comprehensive, composite description of complex ideas. The second is derived from reification, the transformation of an abstract idea into an instantiation that was initially postulated by ancient Greek philosophers and is labeled in the Zachman Framework™: Identification, Definition, Representation, Specification, Configuration and Instantiation.”

Virtual Learning Experiences” by Eureka! Ranch

Past and present webinars on topics such as innovation thinking,  concept writing, mind mapping, and more.

LUMA institute 

“LUMA helps organizations transform into places where people and innovation flourish. LUMA System of Innovation is a practical, easy-to-learn, flexible and scalable framework that people can apply in their daily work to tackle problems of all sizes.”

ExperiencePoint – Innovation and Change Management Training

“An award winning training company that develops business simulations for leadership development, change management and innovation.”

IDEO U: Design Thinking Online Courses

“IDEO U is an online school where leaders can unlock their creative potential and build their problem-solving skills.”

 


Do you have a favorite innovation book, podcast, or resource? Post a comment below, and we hope to see you at a future Innovation Leader gathering!

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