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10 innovation books that every manager should read

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Weeks ago we were talking about the challenge of one of our clients and how to help him in a project. Often we use our library looking for models, tools and theories to support our analyzes and prescriptions, just as a doctor does when he needs to deal with a situation of one of his patients. As we searched the books to solve our challenge we began to discuss what are the innovation books that every manager should read. We chose our top 10 innovation books that we recommend for managers to help to put innovation in practice.

The Innovator’s Dillema. Clayton Christensen introduced the concepts of disruptive innovation and how a well-managed business can be disrupted by new entrants. Detailing his research on the hard disk drives and steel producers the author showed that breakthrough innovations are a distinct alternative that deserves attention from large companies. From this one the author wrote at least another 4 great books: The Innovator’s Solution, The Innovator’s Prescription, and Seeing What’s Next and The Innovator’s DNA, all must-reads.

Blue Ocean Strategy. W Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne argue the idea that the competitive orientation reduces the emphasis on innovation and that companies must create “blue oceans” which are new areas of the market where there is no competition. Highligh for a business tool called strategy canvas, very useful to comparing the value proposition of your company with other alternatives available. This is a simple but poweful way to visualize ando compare how the benefits of your value proposition perform.

Beyond the Idea. Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble focused on the other side of innovation: turn ideas into results within established organizations. The authors show that the challenges of structure, resource allocation and management of innovative projects are crucial to execute innovation. They use a model to classify innovative projects that is very useful to define management policies and approach.

Business Model Generation. Alexander Osterwalder co-created the book inspired by his doctoral thesis in which he defines, organizes and translates the business model idea. Displays the Business Model Canvas as a graphical tool for development, prototyping and testing of new ideas. The got popular by entrepreneurs and innovators that seen in it a clear and easy way to communicate key strategic choices of a business model.

Open Innovation. Henry Chesbrough redefined the practice of innovation management showing that not all opportunities must be carried internally and that not all ideas must came from inside the organization. The author’s work paved the way for systematically considering external stakeholders an important source in the innovation process and increase the efficiency of innovative initiatives.

The First Mile. Scott Anthony addresses a very important issue in innovation projects: how to overcome the initial challenge in turning an idea into reality. Established companies and startups can follow the steps and tools suggested in the book, specially the DEFT model (Document, Evaluate, Focus and Test).

Discovery Driven Growth. The authors Rita McGrath and Ian MacMillan wrote about the planning for discovery. A new approach to management of innovative projects that later influentied the lean start-up theory. The central point is that an innovative initiative has uncertainty and these must be tested as experiments. They called the tool discovery driven planning.

Innovation to the Core. The book of Peter Skarzynski e Rowan Gibson was writen to be a guide to managers that want start to manage the innovation. Each of the 12 chapters has questions that have to be answered to set the innovation practices. The idea is to elect innovation as a first priority in the business agenda. There are many tools and templates to leaders and managers.

Disciplined Entrepreneurship. Bill Aulet from MIT created the best set of tools for developing new business. Applies both startups and corporate innovation. The author offers a well illustraded guide in 24 steps that involve market issues, finances and business model. Following the lessons of this book entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs now have tools to make entrepreneurship more predictable.

Leading the Revolution. This one is a classic by Gary Hamel. The central thesis is the importance of radical innovations for companies in different markets. It is a book that presents the logic of innovation as strategy and aims to touch the reader that revolutions in the markets can be made. Despite a more strategic view it brings practical tips to make the “revolution”.

The 10 books listed above have lasting lessons and practical tools to who has the challenge to innovate.

Maximiliano Carlomagno e Felipe Scherer