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Further reading – from the book

Innovation as Usual coverIn the book’s Appendix A, replicated below, we recommend some books for readers who want or need to delve further into the innovation literature. We have deliberately chosen to limit the number of recommendations on each topic; it is our experience that if you recommend one book, people just might read it, but if you recommend ten books, chances are they won’t read any of them.

1. Focus

The notion of directing the search for innovation covers many aspects, from setting clear goals to developing a full-fledged innovation strategy. Here are some good resources for delving further into this aspect of the search for innovation.

    • Strategy in general. In his article, “Can You Say What Your Strategy Is?” (Harvard Business Review, April 2008), David J. Collis, a coauthor with the late Michael G. Rukstad, provides a simple, powerful framework for what a strategy really is and how managers can communicate it. While they do not discuss innovation as such, the article is important reading if you (or your colleagues) don’t have a clear, shared, and operational understanding of strategy.
    • Innovation strategy. One author who has tackled innovation strategy in various books and articles is Scott Anthony, in particular, in the book The Innovator’s Guide to Growth, coauthored with Mark Johnson, Joseph Sinfield, and Elizabeth Altman (2008, Harvard Business School Press). The authors focus mostly on developing new services and products for customers (and noncustomers), and talk less about internal innovation, but the book is well worth reading.
  • Business models. A good resource for mapping your business model is provided by Alex Osterwelder and Yves Pigneur in Business Model Generation (2010, Wiley), in which Osterwelder, Pigneur, and their many coauthors have developed the so-called business model canvas. 
  • Journeys. An alternative is simply to map out the different journeys that occur in your organization: products as they flow through the organization, customers as they come into contact with your product, or your people as they work together across the organization. Mapping each journey can help you identify new areas to look for innovation.

2. Connect

The keystone behavior of connecting to new worlds builds on many different frameworks, covering ideation, ethnographic methods, open innovation, and more.

  • Technology brokering and recombinant innovation. Andrew Hargadon’s How Breakthroughs Happen (2003, Harvard Business Review Press) is an in-depth guide to the study of where new ideas come from and how businesses can get better at finding them.
  • Studying consumers and finding pain points. We recommend two classics and one more recent book for understanding more about consumer research:
  • ––Hidden in Plain Sight by Erich Joachimsthaler (2007, Harvard Business School Press) provides a strong, in-depth guide to the various ways of studying consumers and customers. It is an excellent read for people who are going to work with ethnography professionally.
  • ––Why We Buy: The Science Of Shopping by Paco Underhill (1999, Simon & Schuster), provides a riveting case study into people’s shopping behaviors, detailing the power (and commercial application) of ethnography. Your view of narrow shopping aisles will never be the same again.
  • ––The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman (2002, Basic Books) is another classic that should be required reading for everybody. It is an excellent introduction to basic pain points; for instance, in how many bad ways can you design a door? An updated version is available as of November 2013.
  • Getting ideas from the outsideVijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble’s book Reverse Innovation (2012, Harvard Business Review Press) shares thought-provoking examples of how companies tap into developing markets to find radical new ideas.
  • ––For a study of how one (big) company implemented open innovation, read A. G. Lafley and Ram Charan’s The Game-Changer (2008, Crown Business). Clay Shirky’s books on collaboration are also worthwhile, e.g. Here Comes Everybody (2008, Penguin Press).
  • ––Richard Florida’s work on cities as engines of creativity provides a different take on collaborative innovation; start with his The Rise of the Creative Class (the revised second edition, published in 2012 by Basic Books), or check out his blog on the website of The Atlantic.
  • Intersections. Frans Johansson’s book Medici Effect (2004, Harvard Business Review Press) provides hands-on advice on how to access completely new fields of knowledge; it is written in a highly entertaining, Gladwell-esque style. His more recent book The Click Moment is also worth reading (2012, Portfolio Hardcover).
  • Office layout. For those interested in the physical architecture of the workplace, Thomas J. Allen and Gunter Henn’s book, The Organization and Architecture of Innovation, is an illustrated tour of how various companies have changed their office layouts in order to promote interaction and cross-fertilization among people (2006, Butterworth-Heinemann).

3. Tweak

  • Mapping assumptions. In Discovery-Driven Growth (2009, Harvard Business School Press), Rita McGrath and Ian MacMillan provide a practical, business-minded framework for working with fuzzy ideas and clarifying hidden assumptions. Great for businesspeople who want to work more systematically with idea development.
  • Customer development and pivoting. Steve Blank and his concepts of customer development, pivoting and more are both gospel and shibboleth for the Silicon Valley start-up crowd. See his HBR article Why the Lean Startup Changes Everything and his blog to get a feel for his ideas, and if you like them, consider getting his The Four Steps to the Epiphany (2005, Cafepress.com). Eric Ries’s The Lean Startup (2011, Crown Business) is also worth reading. 
  • Prototyping and design thinking. The various books from IDEO are great starting points, not least the classics The Art of Innovation (2001, Crown Business) and The Ten Faces of Innovation (2005, Currency/Doubleday), both written by Tom Kelley and Jonathan Littman. Tim Brown’s more recent Change by Design (2009, HarperBusiness) is also a good introduction to the discipline.
  • Reframing the problem. Hands-on tools for reframing are not abundantly available in the business literature, but three good starting points are:
  • ––The HBR article, “Breakthrough Thinking from Inside the Box,” by Kevin P. Coyne, Patricia Gorman Clifford, and Renée Dye provides practical examples and guidance on how to reframe the search for ideas (December 2007), as does another HBR article, “Are You Solving the Right Problem?”, by Dwayne Spradlin (September 2012).
  • ––Clayton Christensen and Michael Raynor’s book, The Innovator’s Solution (2003, Harvard Business School Press), details the “jobs to be done” framework, which is a good tool for analyzing and rethinking consumer needs in detail.
  • Tweaking.The Tweaker,” Malcolm Gladwell’s New Yorker article from November 2011 on Steve Jobs, provides food for thought and some examples of tweaking in action. (Walter Isaacson’s eponymous biography of Steve Jobs is also excellent and inspiring [2011, Simon & Schuster].)

4. Select

  • An overview of idea selection. For newcomers to the discipline of idea selection, we recommend starting with Joe Tidd and John Bessant’s Managing Innovation (2009, Wiley), especially chapters 7 to 9, which give an excellent overview of the various tools, techniques, and approaches currently in use.
  • Innovation value chain. Morten T. Hansen and Julian Birkinshaw’s HBR article, “The Innovation Value Chain,” from June 2007 shares some important insights on idea filtering and a useful diagnostic framework that can help assess your company’s innovation ecosystem.
  • Metrics and reward systems. Making Innovation Work, by Tony Davila, Marc Epstein, and Robert Shelton (the updated edition from 2012, FT Press) is a systematic and hands-on guide to the links among strategy, processes, metrics, and incentives surrounding corporate innovation.
  • More on innovation metrics. Chapter 10 of The Innovator’s Guide to Growth by Scott D. Anthony, Mark W. Johnson, Joseph V. Sinfield, and Elizabeth J. Altman provides a clear-eyed discussion of innovation metrics and some of the associated pitfalls (2008, Harvard Business School Press).
  • Innovation tournaments. Christian Terwiesch and Karl Ulrich’s book Innovation Tournaments (2009, Harvard Business School Press) provides detail on a specific type of idea filtering, namely creating idea competitions akin to the talent shows on TV. The book contains several important lessons on filtering ideas.
  • Stage-gate processes. Robert G. Cooper’s body of work on new product development is a deep wellspring of information for people who need to set up stage-gate processes and similar, complex filtering systems. Start at the website of Cooper and his colleague Scott Edgett.
  • Decision biases. Of the numerous books on human decision biases, Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow (2011, Farrar, Straus and Giroux) is one of the best and most thought-provoking.
  • Crowdsourcing. While not a business book, The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki (2004, Doubleday) is a good introduction to the fundamentals of using crowds to filter ideas.

5. Stealthstorm

  • Stealth innovation. Our article in Harvard Business Review, “The Case for Stealth Innovation,” outlines some core ideas for how to innovate under the radar, sharing case studies from Pfizer, MTV and elsewhere (Miller and Wedell-Wedellsborg, March 2013).
  • Innovating in big organizations. Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble’s The Other Side of Innovation (2010, Harvard Business Review Press) provides clear-eyed, practical advice on the dangers and shortcuts in running innovation projects in large, political companies, with a particular focus on the oft-ignored implementation phase.
  • Innovation in practice. Scott Anthony’s The Little Black Book of Innovation (2011, Harvard Business Review Press) guides the reader through twenty-eight useful lessons on innovation, sharing several insights about navigating the political landscape. Very hands-on and accessible; great for busy practitioners.
  • Storytelling. Klaus Fog and Christian Budtz’s Storytelling: Branding in Practice (2010, Springer) provides some hands-on tools and techniques for crafting and sharing effective stories, particularly with the aim of marketing and branding.
  • Power. Jeffrey Pfeffer’s Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t (2010, HarperBusiness) is an excellent guide to understanding organizational realpolitik.
  • Communication. Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath (2007, Random House,) also give invaluable advice on shaping effective communication.

+1. Persist

The chapter on persistence is strongly informed by research on behavior change.

  • Motivation in general. Daniel Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (2009, Riverhead) gives an easily accessible introduction to motivation, with a particular focus on creative behavior and hands-on recommendations.
  • Motivation at work. Teresa Amabile’s work on motivation is one of the most rigorous studies of daily creativity in organizations. Her recent book with Steven Kramer, The Progress Principle, (2011, Harvard Business Review Press) highlights how managers can increase motivation by enabling people’s progress.
  • Changing behavior. Chip Heath and Dan Heath’s Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard (2010, Crown Business) is one of the best books on the topic of behavior change. Influencer: The Power to Change Anything by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler is a great supplementary read (2007, McGraw-Hill).
  • Forming habits. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg (2012, Random House) gives a good in-depth treatment of what habits are and how you can work on forming new ones.
  • Nudges and choice architecture. Nudge by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein (2008, Yale University Press) provides a fascinating, wide-ranging study of nudges, choice architecture, and human biases; they focus mostly on issues related to government and public service, not businesses.
  • Behavior design. B. J. Fogg’s work on behavior design is a practical framework for thinking about—and modifying—people’s behavior; to learn more, visit his website.
  • Reward systems in general. Steve Kerr has written a short, hands-on book about reward systems, simply called Reward Systems: Does Yours Measure Up? (2008, Harvard Business Review Press). It is a practical guide for managers who are designing or tweaking examining their incentive systems.

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