Ideas change lives – so we need to get better at working with them. As I discussed yesterday, a bit part of this is about communication. But it’s also about having better ideas.
So here is a list of books and blogs that have inspired my thinking recently – if you’re looking for gifts for the innovators on your list (or yourself!), these are worth thinking about. I hope they help you have better ideas too.
- 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era by Nilofer Merchant (discussed here). The world is changing. As we make the transition from the industrial era to the social era, we need to think about developing new skills and new business models to help as adapt. This book outlines the key issues we need to understand to build these things.
- The End of Competitive Advantage by Rita Gunther McGrath (discussed here). This book outlines why and how the world is changing, and makes the argument that the way to win now is by building a series of temporary competitive advantages. The message, again, is that we need new skills and business models to do this.
- Hugh MacLeod’s Daily Newsletter – subscribe here. The cartoons are great, but what I really love is MacLeod’s writing. The word/drawing combo packs a great deal of business wisdom into a daily package. His books are great too – here is my discussion of his first, Ignore Everybody. Another person doing great work in combining words and visuals is Sacha Chua – her blog is one of my must-reads too.
- Daring Greatly by Brené Brown (discussed here). We can’t innovate if we don’t try things that might not work. This means that we have to be vulnerable to innovate. Brown’s book discusses the importance of vulnerability, and the role it plays it having an impact.
- Tips on reading more effectively from Shane Parrish. His Farnam Street blog was one of my finds this year. Two posts worth reading are: The Art of Reading: How to Read a Book and How to Retain more of What You Read.
- Being Wrong by Kathryn Schulz (discussed here). Schulz writes beautifully – I enjoy reading her on any topic. But this book is particularly good. It lays out the reasons for experimenting – a critical innovation skill. It’s through being wrong that we learn – so it’s an essential part of eventually being right.
- Everything by Jeanne Liedtka (one book discussed here). Liedtka is one of the leading thinkers on how to use design-based approaches to improving innovation. Designing for Growth and Solving Business Problems with Design Thinking: Ten Stories of What Works are both outstanding books. I’d start with Designing for Growth. The other design thinking book that I enjoyed this year was Creative Confidence by Tom and David Kelley (discussed here).
- How to be Creative by Tara Hunt. This is one of my favourite blog posts of the year, and I will discuss it in more detail here. Hunt is an outstanding thinker, and I believe that we haven’t yet seen her best work. I’m looking forward to seeing what she does next.
- Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (discussed here by Maria Popova). Use the posts by Parrish to get better at reading, and use this book to get better at writing. Popova’s Brain Picking blog is also well worth your time.
- Conversation Agent by Valeria Maltoni. Another excellent business thinker. Maltoni’s work has been incredibly strong over the past half a year. Add her to your RSS feed, or whatever you use to keep track of new ideas in blogs.
- Who Do You Want Your Customer to Become? by Michael Schrage (discussed here). This is a terrific book. Too many innovators start by asking “what can I build?” Schrage’s question is more important, and a great place to start when you’re innovating.
The last book brings me to my ulterior motive in this post. Who do I want you to become? Here is what I said in my post on Schrage’s book:
“Here’s the change that I’d like to see from our interactions over ideas: that together we figure out how to make work work better.
For too many people, work is lousy. Most organisations are mediocre, at best (maybe even 90% of them!) We need to innovate how we manage, how we deal with our people, and how we deal with customers.
If my writing this and your reading this helps us take even a small step in that direction, I’d be very happy.”
So that’s a start. My other motive here though is that I want you to have great ideas that change my life. This list of resources is a good way to start on that.
Get going! Let’s make work better.