Every entrepreneur wants to do something new or something better. The only way to successfully make it on the market is to be different enough compared to everything already in it.
Some people are naturally creative and come up with many ideas, while others need to follow a process to generate them. Regardless of which category you fall into, reading these books about innovation will give you powerful insights into your own thinking process, as well as the tools to refine your methods and ultimately become proficient at innovating.
1. Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Practice and Principles
Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Practice and Principles by Peter F. Drucker reads almost as a manual for the innovative entrepreneur. Although it was published several decades ago, this systemic work is still highly relevant, as it describes what it takes for new businesses to succeed in western economies. The key takeaway is that entrepreneurs should be focused on the market and take their cues from it.
2. The Myths of Innovation
The Myths of Innovation by Scott Berkun is unique in that it’s not a how-to book but rather a how-not-to one. The author takes it upon himself to demolish some of the persistent yet unhelpful ideas about innovation. Based on years of experience in Microsoft and other tech companies, Berkun presents case studies to demonstrate what makes some innovations successful while others fail before they even start.
3. Mapping Innovation: A Playbook for Navigating a Disruptive Age
Mapping Innovation: A Playbook for Navigating a Disruptive Age by Greg Satell explores the four models of innovation: basic research, breakthrough, sustaining, and disruptive innovation. He offers insights into various types of creative entrepreneurship. The author does this by analyzing some of the best inventions of the past century, which makes it highly relatable.
4. Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration
Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace is a powerful case study book looking at how Pixar Animation Studios has harnessed the potential of innovation to become immensely profitable. From the unique environment they built to encourage originality to their flawless practices in creativity management, the Pixar Studios has a valuable lesson to teach.
5. Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality
Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality by Scott Belsky focuses on building the bridge between coming up with innovative ideas and putting them into practice. Processes and procedures are necessary to execute a vision. This book offers actionable advice on creating the right business infrastructure to go from the original plan to success. It also provides advice on improving productivity and products.
6. Monetizing Innovation: How Smart Companies Design the Product Around the Price
Monetizing Innovation: How Smart Companies Design the Product Around the Price by Madhavan Ramanujam and Georg Tacke is about pricing things right. In the rush of a brilliant idea leading to a vision, the monetary aspect is often overlooked. Needless to say, this isn’t good for business. According to the authors, the customer’s willingness to buy the product should always be in the front row.
Read more: How to set a price for your online course
7. Blue Ocean Strategy
Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne is one of the most quoted books on innovation and an international bestseller. The authors created a useful framework for understanding the relative positioning of offerings and businesses. Blue Ocean Strategy is based on comparing “red oceans” where companies compete on existing markets and “blue oceans” where businesses leverage new customer demands and define new parameters.
8. Blue Ocean Shift: Beyond Competing – Proven Steps to Inspire Confidence and Seize New Growth
Blue Ocean Shift: Beyond Competing – Proven Steps to Inspire Confidence and Seize New Growth by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne is the follow-up to the previous book, focusing on a more practical and detailed guide for entrepreneurs seeking to move away from the traditional competition-based approach to look for yet untapped markets. There’s also a thorough analysis of both disruptive and non-disruptive innovation – with the latter being the superior option.
9. The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators
The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators by Jeffrey H. Dyer, Hal B. Gregersen and Clayton M. Christensen starts by looking at the skills and behaviors of the world’s top innovators, including tech giant leaders like Apple and Google, and moves to offering insights, valuable lessons and comprehensive self-assessments that are very helpful in discovering your own entrepreneurial potential.
10. The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book that Will Change the Way You Do Business
The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book that Will Change the Way You Do Business by Clayton M. Christensen is an almost visionary book written before the digital revolution took the world by storm. The author tackles one of the biggest problems of modern business: the focus that established businesses put on improving existing products and boosting efficiency while failing to anticipate major disruptive events.
11. The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice
The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice by Todd Henry is the ultimate how-to manual for becoming innovative. The author believes that anyone can be creative, as long as the creative process has started long before they actually get down to business. Unleashing the creative potential requires a personal rhythm set by structuring five essential elements: Focus, Relationships, Energy, Stimuli, and Hours.
These books have rather different (and sometimes even conflicting) approaches, but they all agree on one thing: innovation is an essential ingredient of good business, and it can be cultivated. Whether you are starting your own entrepreneurial journey or are already on it and need a creative boost, these reads will give you insights, examples, and tools to help you move in the direction you desire.
Raluca Cristescu has over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.