One of the few things that seems as rapid as the pace of innovation is the number of books coming each year to talk about it. It's a rare executive who has time to even check out the reviews of the hundreds of titles published each year, much less read more than a handful of business books.
So we've done some sorting for you. Whether you want to jumpstart how you and your team drum up great ideas, finesse how you sell them to colleagues or customers, or master the fast launch of a product, below are some of the most interesting — and helpful — books of 2016.
Plus, we've noted some of the classics you may want to make time to (re-) read in the year ahead, as they contain plenty of insights that stand the test of time.
Finding Inspiration Outside Your Company
Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson
Watch a child making up a game and you'll be reminded how play can quickly spark invention. In Wonderland, Johnson, the bestselling author of How We Got to Now and Where Good Ideas Come From, takes readers on a journey through the history of popular entertainment, with stops in music, fashion and games, to reveal how often what began as “fun" has had an impact on innovation.
The Classic: Technique for Producing Ideas by James Young
Mastering Corporate Innovation
Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice by Clayton Christensen and Karen Dillon
One of innovation's leading thinkers is back with a book that flips the script on how companies define their relationship with their customers and products. In Competing Against Luck, Christensen and his co-author posits that companies should think about themselves as “for hire." Using plenty of examples, including Amazon and Airbnb, the authors suggest that companies can succeed by understanding that the most important thing they need to know about consumers is what jobs they need done — and how their products or services can help them accomplish those specific jobs.
The Classic: The Innovator's Dilemma, by Clayton Christensen
Working Successfully With Startups
Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz
If you're partnering with a startup or wondering how working with one will fit with your existing company culture, this book serves as a guide to getting things done the startup way. Knapp led design sprints at Google, and now all three authors use the framework when working with portfolio companies at Google Ventures. They've put together a clear, step-by-step guide to a five-day process — including problem solving, prototyping and testing — that gets new products out the door fast.
The Classic: Innovation And Entrepreneurship by Peter Drucker
Advice for Intrapreneurs
Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert B. Ciadini
Employees who want to create a product or service that is different than their company's mainstays know that getting managers and colleagues to support the idea is crucial. Cialdini, who earned his stripes with the bestselling Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, returns with the idea that what you say might matter less than when you say it. Drawing on studies and examples of what is often referred to as “priming," Cialdini contends that whether you're speaking to a packed auditorium or to your boss, waiting for the right time, “the privileged moment of change," will up the odds that people will respond favorably to your message.
The Classic: The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything by Guy Kawaski
Insights Into Open Innovation
New Frontiers in Open Innovation by Henry Chesbrough and Win Vanhaverbeke
Although this book didn't come out in 2016 — it will be published in March — it's worth noting for those who want to get up-to-speed quickly on the evolving field of open innovation. The book's editors have brought together the latest research on the topic, and the result is a collection that explores the ideas expected to shape the field in the next few years as well as the management challenges companies that are practicing open innovation are facing.
The Classic: Open Innovation: Researching a New Paradigm by Henry Chesbrough.'
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