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Five Must-Read Books on Innovation

Seeking some quick inspiration for innovation? Here at SoapBox, we’re advocates of sitting down to read and in our spare time, we’ve come across some great reads for innovation.

Here is a list of our five most valued books on innovation implementation strategies, starting with a classic:

Innovation and EntrepreneurshipBooks on innovation: Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Peter F. Drucker
Harper & Row, 1985

Known as being the grandfather of all innovation books, Drucker’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship was the first to break down business innovation and entrepreneurship in an easy-to-follow and systematic manner. The book runs through seven indicators that reveal whether a business is ready for innovation, with some really important ones being:

  • Unexpected success
  • Incongruity between Reality and Ideal
  • Discovery of New Knowledge

Drucker stresses that organizations can capitalize on these signs of opportunity and create new value by constantly looking out for them and then building and implementing a systematic plan.

The Innovator’s DNABooks on innovation: The Innovator's DNA

Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and Clayton M. Christensen
Harvard Business Review Press, 2011

Based on a six year study, this book observes the habits of twenty-five innovative entrepreneurs and surveys more than three thousand executives and five hundred individuals that have either built an innovative company or have invented a new product, in an attempt to answer how they were able to successfully innovate. The book identifies what they call five “discovery” skills:

  • Associating
  • Questioning
  • Observing
  • Experimenting
  • Networking

Despite the name of the book, the writers stress that while some individuals are naturally born with these innovative “discovery” skills, anyone can cultivate them through practice. The book provides some valuable insight on how individuals can hone in on their natural curiosity and observational skills and learn to ask “why” and “why not” more frequently in business.

The Idea Generator: Quick and Easy KaizenBooks on innovation: The Idea Generator

Bunji Tozawa and Norman Bodek
P C S Pr, 2001

This book endeavours to inspire the “Kaizen” mindset, a thought process which enables organizations to fully utilize its resources by laying out a system of employee engagement and encouragement. Observed while practiced by groundbreaking companies such as Toyota and Canon, the system is designed to honour the creative potential of each individual by helping employees come up with small high quality ideas and to then implement them and celebrate even the smallest success.

Tozawa and Bodek reveal that implementing this practice in the workplace showed a 60–70 percent of improvement in ideas from each employee year after year, and they provide workable solutions and techniques for organizations of any industry.

The Idea Driven Organization: UBooks on innovation: The Idea-Driven Organizationnlocking the Power in Bottom-up Ideas

Alan G. Robinson and Dean M. Schroeder
Berett-Koehler Publishers, 2014

Robinson and Schroeder celebrate frontline or “bottom” staff in this new book, citing these individuals as being the most valuable in terms of improving processes and making new offerings that will have the greatest impact on an organization. Rather than choose to use the seldom useful “suggestion box” method, the book digs into what is really necessary to create a customized idea program for your own organization, from putting together the right innovation management team to the policies and practices that are sure to encourage a steady flow of insightful employee ideas.

Books on innovation: The First Mile

The First Mile

Scott D. Anthony
Harvard Business Review Press, 2014

Moving from the “planning” stage of an idea to “reality” is where most organizations fail when it comes to launching ideas that have a real positive impact on the company. Drawing upon a decade of experience as an investor and innovation adviser, Anthony strives to equip innovators with the tools, examples, and questions necessary to not only make it through, but to expedite this early stage of innovation.

Through proper evaluation, inspiration, and approach to potential setbacks, this manual helps readers traverse down that daunting “first mile” of an idea and sends them down a highway of success.

Harness the power of employee ideas.