We present, in no particular order, a list of books that should form an essential part of any innovator’s library. These definitive classics on innovation have survived the tests of time and technological disruption and are as relevant today.
1. The Innovative Leader: How To Inspire Your Team And Drive Creativity by Paul Sloane
The Innovative Leader is almost a Bible for working professionals. Easy to read, yet provocative, Sloane leaves no stone unturned to incite the reader into changing his ways. Every facet of leadership is covered, from problem analysis and generating ideas to personal fitness. Replace the culture of comfortable incremental progress into one of hungry adventure, he says, and transform the cubicle dweller into an innovation warrior. Full summary here.
2. A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel H. Pink
With the onset of the new world, a guide such as this provides just the right ingredients to survive. No longer the age of just accountants, doctors and lawyers, this book addresses an era of a different kind. Giving instances of artists, inventors and storytellers being more of ‘right brain’ thinkers, Pink advocates integrating creativity in every aspect. Better use your right brain to keep up with the times, says Pink, in this daring book that will change the way we experience the world. Full summary here.
3. Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History Of Innovation by Steven Johnson
Johnson unravels the mystery of ideas and their generation from time immemorial. This inspirational book engages the reader with one ‘Eureka’ moment after another. Johnson digs deep into the creative process of innovation, connecting seemingly disparate ideas: ants and cities, interface design and Victorian novels. Historical examples such as the pencil, photosynthesis and the battery validate the fact that ideas are inspired by the existing reality. Johnson, an advocate of open systems, considers the motivation of an idea, positioning collective effort against the individual effort. Full summary here.
4. Leading The Revolution by Gary Hamel
‘Familiarity is the enemy’ declares the author as he strongly admonishes convention and tradition. The book is nothing close to placid, but a fierce cry to not just adapt but to become the change. Promoting continuity and change, Hamel, carefully details how to promote an idea, no matter what your standing in the organisation. Hamel emphasizes on ‘Innovation being a dynamic process’, shunning complacency and single strategy business plans. Full summary here.
5. The Art of Innovation: Lessons In Creativity From IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm by Tom Kelley
The author of The Art of Innovation, gives a fresh perspective on design challenges faced by businesses in any field. He makes a good case for deviating from the usual practices, advocating instead, the art of observing the daily environment of the prospective consumer. With insights into the imaginative problem-solving methods at IDEO, Kelley discusses best ideas for creating and improving products and processes. Encouraging you to break all the rules, The Art of Innovation will, without doubt, get you thinking. Full summary here.
6. The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms To Fail by Clayton Christensen
Christensen’s guide on disruptive innovation suggests abandoning traditional business practices, transcending time and industry to help manager’s see and act on forthcoming changes. Cited by the world’s best-known thought leaders, from Steve Jobs to Malcolm Gladwell – Christensen’s work is a must read for managers, CEOs, innovators and entrepreneurs. Full summary here.