6 Fabulous Books on Creativity, Innovation, and Design

I recommend these books on creativity, innovation, design, and entrepreneurship, to inspire and motivate you. Click on the links to buy these books on Amazon.

The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators
By Dyer, Gregersen, and Christensen

Authors Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and innovation guru Clayton M. Christensen, conducted extensive interviews with over 5,000 inventors, game-changing innovators, and executives, including Apple’s Steve Jobs, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, eBay’s Pierre Omidyar, and P&G’s A.G. Lafley.

They found that specific patterns of behavior emerged over and over: one’s ability to generate innovative ideas is not merely a function of the mind, but also a function of behaviors.

You could be as innovative and impactful as the most creative people in business – if you change your behavior. These  five behaviors comprise the building blocks of the “Innovator’s DNA”:

  1. Associating: drawing connections between questions, problems, or ideas from unrelated fields
  2. Questioning: posing queries that challenge common wisdom
  3. Observing: scrutinizing the behavior of customers, suppliers, and competitors to identify new ways of doing things
  4. Networking: meeting people with different ideas and perspectives
  5. Experimenting: constructing interactive experiences and provoking unorthodox responses to see what insights emerge

The Innovators DNA presents a fresh new perspective, by positioning these attributes as behaviors, or habits you can develop, rather than traits you were born with. I like the emphasis the authors place on behaviours because it shifts our perceptions from thinking, to, well, behaving. How hard can it be?

The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work
By Teresa Amiable and Steven Kramer

Managing creativity at work can be a challenge. This book reveals essential truths, based on research, about what motivates us —it’s not the external motivators like free food, but in “creating the conditions for great inner work life—the conditions that foster positive emotions, strong internal motivation, and favourable perceptions of colleagues and the work itself. ”

The book shows how to remove obstacles to progress, and explains how to activate two forces that enable progress: (1) catalysts—events that directly facilitate project work, such as clear goals and autonomy—and (2) nourishers—interpersonal events that uplift workers, including encouragement and demonstrations of respect and collegiality.

The authors say “Innerwork life is marked by joy, deep engagement in the work, and a drive for creativity.” Music to my ears! This to me is what makes work a work of art.

Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity
By Josh Linkner

Linkner distills his years of experience in business and jazz — as well as hundreds of interviews with CEOs, entrepreneurs, and artists — into a 5-step process that will make creativity easy for you and your organization. The methodology is simple, backed by “proven results.”

This book provides an easy-to-follow framework,  and some fresh thinking about organizational creativity, useful to anyone who needs to manage the creative process beyond brainstorming. I particularly like the chapter on preparing “The Creativity Brief” which has some great discovery questions to help managers and teams define the creativity challenge.

Innovation is Everybody’s Business: How to Make Yourself Indispensable in Today’s Hypercompetitive World
By Robert Tucker

As Tucker says, “Innovation isn’t something you do after your work get’s done. It’s how you do your work.” Based on interviews with forty-three innovation-adept managers and individual contributors, Innovation Is Everybody’s Business guides you in:

  • Mastering the seven essential I-Skills you need to become indispensable
  • Unleashing the “mindset, skillset, and toolset of the innovator” that enable you to anticipate and rise to the challenges your organization faces in a hypercompetitive era
  • Developing your Personal Innovation Strategy to address the critical components of becoming irreplaceable
  • Assaulting your assumptions at the personal, organizational, and industry levels
  • Building tools for work-life balance and creating your own job satisfaction

Each chapter covers the principles of a skill-set, such as breaking through assumptions that block progress, and how to master the skill. This book could easily be called the 7 Habits of Successful Innovators.

Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Toolkit for Managers
By Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilvie

The authors have designed an excellent resource for design thinking, that functions as both a manual and a how-to tool kit for the entire creative process, from conception to implementation. They break down the design process into four questions: What if? What else? What wows? and What works? Within this framework, they provide ten tools which include specific guidelines for each step of the process, from assessing current reality through the customer’s eyes, assessing the current value chain that supports the customer’s journey, through to concept development, assumption testing, rapid prototyping, enrolling customers in co-creation, through to launching the innovation.

Double Double: How to Double Your Revenue and Profit in 3 Years or Less
By Cameron Herold

Cameron Herold is the former Chief Operating Officer of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?. I heard him speak in Vancouver recently and he has amazing stories to tell about how the company leveraged PR to grow their business, and their brand.

He has the street cred for growing businesses, so I guess he can be forgiven for his gimmicky title. For the entrepreneurial minded, this book is worth reading. Each topic the author covers — from creating a vision for the company’s future to learning how to generate free PR for a developing company — is squarely focused on the end goal: doubling the size of the entrepreneur’s company in three years or less.

Watch Herold’s TED talk on kids and entrepreneurship

Linda Naiman

As founder of Creativity Work, I help executives and their teams develop creativity, innovation, and leadership skills via arts-based learning and design thinking. (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases on blog posts)

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