Four Great Innovation Books of 2016

So Much to Read, So Little Time

In 2016, I’ve read around 30 innovation books. Four of them stand out. Here is why.

The books are shown in the grid below. The grid has two axis:

  • From complicated to simple: Is the book easy to grasp fully, or does it require several rereads?
  • From theoretically interesting to practically applicable: How easy is it to apply the book in practice?

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Four Great Innovation Books

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So here we go, from top left to bottom right.

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Team Leadership: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

I am an avid Kindle reader – and this classic “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – A Leadership Fable” by Patrick Lencioni is marvellous. The funny thing is, that while I was reading it, I was doing an assignment with the leadership team of Roche Innovation Center Copenhagen, together with Berit Sander, a very experienced psychologist. At our first meeting she said: “I have this great model from Lencioni, which might be useful…” – “Lencioni?”, I said, “I’m just reading his book!” What a marvellous conicidence that was. The model that is used throughout the book is this:

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Lencioni - 5 Dysfunctions of a Team

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The book is written as a story, where we follow a newly appointed CEO’s efforts to create a cohesive and efficient leadership team. Team dynamics are complicated – this is why I classified the book as such. It is highly applicable, though – and the book is refreshingly free from “model overload”. If you only read one book about team dynamics, this is definitely recommended. We used it with great effect in our work.

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Prototyping: SPRINT – Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days

“Sprint – Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days” is written by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz from Google Ventures. It’s a no-frills and easy-to-use blueprint for how you engage a dedicated team to create a tested prototype of virtually anything in five intensive days. I was so thrilled by the book that I bought it as a “real” book, after having read it in almost one sitting at my Kindle. A sprint process looks like this:

Sprint Process

Soon after, I had a meeting with Line Storelvmo Holmberg from Vestas, whom I worked with previously. Line had contacted me because she wanted to develop a new version of a technical software package with her team. “Why don’t we do a Sprint?”, I said, and continued: “In five working days, we can have a prototype of your software, that has been tested with five users!”. She was on to the idea immediately.

In the beginning of November, we did a sprint with a dedicated team of Vestas experts. For five days, we worked intensively to develop and test a prototype. Before we knew it, we were ready to contact a patent attorney with our new business idea. The Sprint book was an extremely good guide in this process.

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Systematic Innovation: The European Innovation Management Standard

I have written several blog posts about the European Innovation Management Standard. A lot of work has put into this, and the standard is in my view a very useful document. It is very boring to read, however, which is why I’ve placed in the lower left corner: Complicated and theoretically interesting.

In other words, only the ones that have a particular interest in this field would bother to read it, let alone know that it exists. Since I bother, I have read it thoroughly, and have developed the INNOCULTURE board game from it, together with Copenhagen Game Lab. I have played INNOCULTURE with e.g. Designskolen Kolding and Netværk Danmark, with great success, and am in the process of writing an abbreviated version of the 160-page document, in collaboration with Dansk Standard.

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If you want to read the European Innovation Management Standard, you may buy it here. And if you don’t have the patience to read it, stay tuned for my abbreviated version, or contact me, if you want to have a demo of the INNOCULTURE game. You may read about the different options to get engaged with INNOCULTURE here.

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Learn from the Best: Gamechangers

“Gamechangers” by Peter Fisk has the same format as Osterwalders Business Model Generation started (and indeed many, many innovation books have since adopted): A landscape book with plenty of pictures. Peter Fisk is a fantastic presenter, which I had the pleasure to meet when he was giving a talk in Odense:

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Peter Fisk and Finn Kollerup

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His book is jam packed with 100 case studies of gamechangers (=disruptive innovators) from 10 different sectors, and it’s all nicely topped off with models and 16 different canvases. This is the business model canvas on steroids!

His website is a plethora of material to inspire your innovation. I put it in the lower right corner, though, because it is almost too much :-) – where to start and how to apply all these wonderful canvases becomes a study in its own right, and therefore not easy to put into practical use right away. We have applied some of the Gamechanger concepts with Krüger.

What to Read?

All these books are worthwhile reads, and I recommend them full-heartedly. The following 4 questions may guide you:

  1. How can I create a stellar leadership or project team? Start with Lencioni and top it off with The Sprint book.
  2. How can I develop a convincing and tested prototype of my new product? Start with the Sprint book and get inspired by Gamechangers.
  3. How can I get an understanding of what it takes to increase the chance of success with innovation? Read the first document of the European Innovation Management Standard, and read Lencioni.
  4. How can I develop a deeper understanding of the movers and shakers of innovation? Read Gamechangers and get inspired by Peter Fisk.

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How To Create more Value from Your Innovation Projects

Sprint Process with your Project Team

We can do a sprint process with your team, to create a tangible and tested prototype in just 5 days. The advantages of doing a sprint include:

  • It is fast
  • It is cheap
  • It is tangible
  • It is efficient
  • It is rather simple
  • It has a great teambuilding effect
  • It gives you useful user feedback early on
  • It can be used in the internal communication about your project
  • It creates a solid ground for subsequent development (smaller sprints and/or hard core product development)

Read more about how we do sprints here.

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Leadership Development and Strategy

We have done numerous leadership and strategy development projects, with e.g. Roche Innovation Center Copenhagen, TEC, LEO Pharma, and Knud E. Hansen.

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Innovation Keynotes

Contact us, if you want a refreshing and insightful keynote about innovation.

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Systematic Innovation Management

There are many ways to get started with systematic innovation management:

  1. Read our blog post Systematic Innovation Management Means Business
  2. Start small, by getting an initial overview of what you have: Take our online IMS survey here, to put some numbers on what areas you need to focus on
  3. Have an INNOCULTURE session in your company, to initiate a dialogue about how and why you can benefit from systematic innovation management. You may read about the different INNOCULTURE options here.
  4. Take our Danish online INNOCULTURE survey to further define your strong and weak spots
  5. Arrange an Innovation Camp to write your first blueprint for your own Innovation Management System

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