Result Blog
Mahesh Kumar, CEO Result
2017.8.23 - 7 min read
5 Must-Read Books If You Are A Manager Looking To Unlock Innovation
5 Must-Read Books If You Are A Manager Looking To Unlock Innovation
A manager that understands how to enable, support and create a soil for innovation within an organisation has a higher chance of creating value and doing fulfilling work. Not only does that enrich the lives of the end consumers but also increase shareholder value.

However, that is easier said than done. Here is the context they operate in:

  1. Large corporates have a greater need for innovation today than ever. In the last 15 years, 52% of S&P companies have disappeared rendered into oblivion by nimble younger organisations.
  2. The biggest challenge facing digital transformation in corporations is a continuous way to change mindset and culture within the organisation to embrace a digital mindset and DNA, retrain workers with new skill sets and create a soil for innovation.
  3. Today's workforce requires more autonomy than ever. 70% of the younger generation see themselves working more autonomously than following orders and doing the same task day in and out. It is harder than ever to be a manager that does not give space and autonomy for the workforce to succeed.
Here are 5 must-read books that help you get started to understand how to enable innovation within your organisation or department.

Leading Digital (for managers and CEOs)
Leading Digital, a must-read for corporate innovators and leaders on how to unlock innovation.
George Westerman is an acclaimed author and principal research scientist with the MIT Sloan Initiative on the Digital Economy. The author famous for his 6S Innovation Labs Framework is back at it again with a book that focuses purely on the how of managing a digital transformation and enabling ideas from within your organisation. In particular:

• How to engage better with your customers.
• How to digitally enhance operations.
• How to create a digital vision.
• How to govern your digital activities.

The book also includes an extensive step-by-step transformation playbook for leaders to follow.

Why I recommend the book:

  • The book is structured and easy to read (compared to thick innovation literature).
  • It is hands-on with practical frameworks that you can use directly.
  • It addresses issues from a leadership point of view making it high level.
  • Yet it is full of examples on how to run digital activities and how to kickstart a culture of innovation.
  • As a bonus: it has enough buzzwords to make you look smart at dinner table conversations ;)
Who should read this book:

  • CEOs and leaders who need a different mindset to managing digital.
  • Head of Innovation and Digital Transformation experts.
  • Board members and investment managers who need to help their CEOs understand and lead digital.
Buy here: https://www.amazon.com/Leading-Digital-Technology-Business-Transformation/dp/1625272472

The Digital Transformation Playbook (for managers and CEOs)
A playbook for leaders in pre-digital age companies on reframing strategy and complementing it with rapid experimentation.
David Rogers offers a step by step approach to aligning strategy with today's pace of digital growth. While the book is more high level strategic than Leading digital, the toolkits are invaluable to rethink how you run your digital initiatives. Most corporates run digital with a "campaign mentality" with metrics that are rooted in the traditional world. Or worse yet understanding that just having an active social media presence does not constitute transformation into digital.

Rogers illustrates every strategy in this playbook with real-world case studies, from Google to GE, from Airbnb to the New York Times. With practical frameworks and nine step-by-step planning tools, he distills the lessons of today's greatest digital innovators and makes them usable for businesses at any stage.

Why I recommend this book:

  • Great examples that illustrate the mindset and staying power needed to succeed in digital.
  • Strategy frameworks that probably replace 80% of the work McKinsey or BCG would do for you ;)
  • Step by step planning tools that you can use across your organisation.
Who should read this book:

  • CEOs who spend millions on consultants to get reports that do not tell you where to get started.
  • Executive teams that need to convince a team member that there is no point trying to salvage traditional business thinking any more.
  • Board members and investment managers who need to help their CEOs understand and lead digital.
Buy here: https://www.amazon.com/Digital-Transformation-Playbook-Business-Publishing/dp/0231175442

The GV Sprint: How to solve big problems and test new ideas in just five days (for teams and intrapreneurs)
The Google Venture Sprint Model: 5 days to solve big problems and test them with real customers
While working at Google, designer Jake Knapp created a unique problem-solving method that he coined a "design sprint" — a five-day process to help companies answer crucial questions. His "sprints" were used in the development of everything from Gmail to Google X to Chrome. The authors have run over 100 sprints with their portfolio companies, inside Google and in others companies or environments who have sought their help. They've seen firsthand how sprints can overcome challenges in all kinds of companies: healthcare, fitness, finance, retailers, and more. A practical guide to answering business questions, Sprint is a book for groups of any size, from small startups to Fortune 100s.

Why I recommend this book:

  • Practical framework to test an idea and validate with real customers.
  • Filled with real-life examples, do's and don'ts.
  • Perfect for teams within large organisations testing new features or services.
  • Unique methods that address silos and brings different departments together to work on the same problem and solution.
  • Well thought through toolkit bundles on the web if you are running a sprint.
Who should read this book:

  • Intrapreneurs who believe if they build that next feature, they will get a billion users.
  • Managers who demand 5 year business cases from their teams.
  • CEOs who do not understand how IT and business go hand in hand.
Buy here: https://www.amazon.com/Sprint-Solve-Problems-Test-Ideas/dp/1442397683

Hooked: How to build habit forming products (for teams and intrapreneurs)
Nir Eyal combines psychology of human brain with concrete frameworks to look at new product driven innovation.
The course with most innovation is that the market does not bat an eyelid to your new product. After all the hype and buzz that is created, most companies come to the fateful realisation that they have built something no one cares about. Nir Eyal looks deeply at what it takes to create products that are irresistible for your customers.

Nir Eyal answers these questions (and much more) by explaining the Hook Model — a four-step process embedded into the products of many successful companies to subtly encourage customer behavior. Through consecutive "hook cycles," these products reach their ultimate goal of bringing users back again and again without depending on costly advertising or aggressive messaging.

Why I recommend this book:

  • Fascinating read that sheds light into how we can hack the mind as product managers or idea owners to create new habits.
  • Actionable steps to build loops in the product to create high engagement.
  • Fascinating examples from iPhone, Twitter to the Bible app that teaches you that even if you have an infinite marketing budget (which most companies don't have), you need to create habits that stick.
Who is this book a must-read for:

  • Idea owners / Product owners.
  • Intrapreneurs who think their idea is going to go viral and their leadership does not get it.
  • Traditional marketers who do not understand that you can not interrupt and buy attention anymore.
Buy here: https://www.amazon.com/Hooked-How-Build-Habit-Forming-Products/dp/1591847788

Intrapreneuring in Action (for anyone within a corporate)
A classic must read — Pinchot coined the term intrapreneurship and dedicates this book on the how to unlock business innovation within a large organisation.
Based on the authors' experience helping companies launch over 400 new products and businesses, Intrapreneuring in Action gives managers at all levels examples and instructions on how to identify people within their organizations who behave like entrepreneurs. It also explains how to avoid classic mistakes while creating a climate that encourages intrapreneurship and directs intrapreneurial energy toward company goals.

Why I recommend this book:

  • Addresses the biggest challenge in digital transformation — the culture and mindset to change.
  • Examples that you can implement tomorrow.
  • Empowering internal innovation creates a foundation for continuous innovation and a culture that encourages experimentation.
Who should read this book:

  • Leaders and managers at all levels.
  • Anyone who thinks their organisation is boring and needs to inject new energy.
  • Anyone who thinks their organisation should not die in this age of digital disruption.
Buy here: https://www.amazon.com/Intrapreneuring-Action-Handbook-Business-Innovation/dp/1576750612

If I have missed any books, let me know in the comments.

If you are as busy as a bee and do not have time to read the books, check out Blinkist that offers crisp summaries of books.

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