Tag Archives: Innovation

10 books about innovation I recommend you read

innovation books

Like other people who write about, consult on , and do innovation, I get asked about books a lot. There are the basics you want to read like Innovation and Entrepreneurship by Peter Drucker, The Innovator’s Solution, Crossing the Chasm and others. I tend to want to read books that have more unconventional ideas in them, as well as some practicality.

With that said, here are a few books about innovation that I recommend you read:

For innovation, don’t ignore the Zero Gravity Thinker

Cover of "The Innovation Killer: How What...

Cover via Amazon

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about a book about innovation. Being that there are so many of them, and I get quite a few to read and review, there are only a handful that I would recommend. The Innovation Killer by Cynthia Barton Rabe is one of those that I recommend you read.

This is one of the best “least talked about” books about innovation out there. And, it isn’t even new. It was published in 2006, but it’s ideas will always be relevant because it focuses on how an organization can overcome human nature.

There are many companies that follow the basics that contribute to innovation: they create diverse teams, they encourage dissent and accept that mistakes will be made.

Yet, the two main killers of innovation, expert think and group think, are not kept at bay. They become blinders, and most don’t have a way to determine when this happens.

Innovator’s use different metrics to measure their impact

smile as an innovation metric

When I was in high school and college, I got to work both as a customer service and as technical service rep for Tracfone and Verizon. I broke a lot of rules in that time. Stupid rules like reading the script. Back then, over a decade ago, it was a common practice to read a script to the customer before digging into “the reason they are calling”. On the Tracfone account, for example, we had a specific metric we had to comply with: the dreaded “Time on Call”.

Customers don’t care if you’re innovative or not

Pop-Tarts

Pop-Tarts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They don’t care about your business strategy, your marketing strategy, your supply chain, your approach to human resources; nothing.

They also don’t care about your latest innovation program. And, unless you’re Apple, they don’t care about your latest product extension. Seriously, they don’t.

A recent post on the Wall Street Journal has pretty much put it in perspective how executives are looking at innovation the wrong way: something that is innovative to them, not the customer.

Basically, the Wall Street Journal article shines a light on how diluted the definition of innovation has become. It’s become a marketing ploy. Before I addressed this here, a couple of bloggers beat me to it. Both addressed the mindlessness thinking that the article uses as an example. You should read both their posts (here and here).

Of course, innovation is a buzzword, this isn’t new. But seriously, the example they used in the article is common across many industries. The way companies want to innovate, or the reason they are investing in it, is because they are playing not to lose by out-featuring competitors.

Reactive mindset, not proactive.

When they act this way, they forget a very important principle about marketing: people don’t remember specific features, they remember the experience they had. Companies are confusing a product upgrade with innovation, and to believe that changing one thing is enough to make a splash is short-term-ism at its finest.

I love Pop-Tarts, but a different flavor of Pop-Tarts is not an innovation.