For Your Summer Reading List: Eight Great Books on Innovation and Business

Photo by LWY

Photo by LWY

 In 2004, I blogged my “Top-10 Innovation Readings” and included such titles as: 

  • Leading the Revolution by Gary Hamel
  • The Innovators Solution by Clayton Christensen
  • Developing Global Strategies for Service Businesses by Christopher Lovelock
  • Discovering the Soul of Services by Leonard Berry
  • Provices and Serducts by Michael Schrage

The books on this list reflect where I was on my innovation journey nine years ago. It was filled with good strategic frameworks and academic collections on service innovation.  

But now that it's mid-summer in DC – the dog days – it’s time to update my list and think about putting something new in the beach bag. Here are four, couldn’t-put-down reads from my bookshelf. 

Innovation Science & History

  • Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson
    Johnson is a flat-out terrific science writer, a storyteller as accessible as Jonah Lehrer but with a tighter grip on the underlying science.  Not a business book, which is a strength.

  • Runner-up: Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes

Behavioral Economics

  • Nudge by Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein
    The field of behavioral economics has actually dominated my non-fiction reading, and this is just one of the best.

  • Runner up: Daniel Kahneman’s excellent Thinking, Fast & Slow.

Social Science

  • Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky
    The phenomenon of social production is spelled out beautifully by this NYU professor. Filled with examples, the tone is more pop science than peer-reviewed journal, but the empirical data shows up just enough to give it heft.

  • Runner-up: The Social Atom by Mark Buchanan 

Business Science

  • The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
    Eric puts his finger directly on the pulse of the entrepreneur, and distills the methods into a reusable formula.  While it focuses mainly on software entrepreneurship, I can assure you the methods translate to new products, new services, the whole shebang.

  • Runner-up: The Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson

OK, so what’s on your list?  I’d love to hear just one of your couldn’t-put-down read from the past year or two.