In the last year or two, hundreds of business books have been written about innovation, entrepreneurship and driving rapid business growth. I have read several dozen of these and would love to share a few that I think are some of the best.
The first book I’ll recommend is what many consider a classic on this topic, “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” by the wildly brilliant Clayton M. Christensen. In this extremely thoughtful examination of innovation excellence, Christensen focuses on the idea of “disruptive innovation” and why many companies fail to innovate successfully. He also takes the time to carefully lay out a set of rules designed to ensure that you do not fall into the trap of allowing your competition to out-innovate you. This is a somewhat challenging book to read, but the effort pays off handsomely.
For a clear, straightforward “how-to-do-innovation” book, I would suggest reading “The Little Black Book of Innovation” by Scott Anthony. This easy-to-read book is filled with lots of examples, anecdotes, stories and specific innovation instructions that you can put into action immediately. Scott is a senior partner in a global innovation consultancy and has worked for clients all over the globe, helping them to understand and implement a much higher level of innovation in their businesses.
The next on my list is “The Innovation Playbook” by my friend and colleague Nicholas Webb. The main thrust of this book is:
- Innovation is absolutely critical to long-term business success;
- Most companies are terrible at innovation (but think they are great);
- There is a process that you can follow to create successful and sustainable innovation.
I especially like Nicholas’ book because he focuses so intently on the process of delivering real customer value. This book is packed with ideas, tools and techniques for creating a culture of innovation within your organization and truly lives up to the title “playbook.”
The most popular book right now on the combination of innovation and entrepreneurship is “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries. This is a straightforward, in-your-face treatise on how to use iterative innovation to build what Ries calls a “Minimum Viable Product” and then do fast prototyping to get it to the market and see if it will sell. Again, I am particularly fond of this book because it drives home the point that innovation that does NOT lead to a real product — that customers will buy — is useless if you’re trying to start a business based on your innovation.
Lastly, I would highly recommend the “Rockefeller Habits” by Verne Harnish, who is widely considered the world’s leading authority on building fast-growth companies, or what he calls, “gazelles.” Of all the books I’ve listed, this one is the most prescriptive and sets out very clear, step-by-step instructions on how to create high-velocity growth in your business. I especially like the template Harnish provides on how to build a “one page business plan” and his explanation of how to innovate new approaches in your industry that can remove major bottlenecks and give you a 10-times advantage over your competition.
As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, there are dozens and dozens of good books on innovation, with more being published every day; but if I were to pick just five that I think would give you the most well-rounded look at the topic, along with some excellent instruction, tools and templates, these would be the ones that made that very short list.
John Spence is the author of “Awesomely Simple – Essential Business Strategies for Turning Ideas into Action,” and has twice been recognized as one of the top 100 business thought leaders in America and one of the country’s leading small business influencers. John has also read more
than 100 business books a year since 1989.