7 Outstanding Books on Innovation Leaders Need to Read 2018-09-29T15:08:48+00:00

7 Outstanding Books on Innovation Leaders Need to Read

If you are a leader in higher education (or any other field frankly), learning how to lead innovation should be at the top of your “to do” list for 2018. The following 7 books have been selected from a large collection of works on innovation. We recommend them to our clients and to you. Choosing just seven was difficult given the tremendous number of excellent books on this topic. These 7 books taken as a whole provide an excellent educational resource and foundation for leaders desiring to make their institution more innovative so they can survive and thrive in these most challenging times. I have also included a description of our own book on innovation as a bonus selection. Below you will find a short summary of each book and a link so you can order it directly. There is also a space where you can recommend books that you like on this subject that we can share with others.

Laurence N. Smith
Senior Partner
New Campus Dynamics

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by Larry Kelly and associates

This highly acclaimed book is required reading for anyone involved in establishing an innovative organization. It is written for the corporate and business world but provides stimulating insights and applications for the creative higher education, health care or service sectors leaders who are responsible for innovation in their organizations. While these books are not in any particular order, we chose to present this one first because it offers a unique approach to thinking about innovation. From the book: “At the heart of any new discipline there often lies a simple, organizing system—an underlying structure and order governing what works and what fails. This is what the Ten Types framework brings to innovation. Consciously understanding it makes innovation easier and more effective.”

Larry Keely is a globally recognized leader in innovation effectiveness. As noted in his bio, he has endeavored “to grow the field as a science rather than an exercise in applied creativity.”  The ten types of innovation stimulate one’s thinking and experimentation on both sides of the issue. It provides for a deeper understanding of why survival depends on the necessity of building the quest for innovation and its application to be at the core of an organization’s structure and operating system.

(John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey. 2013)

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by Terry Jones, Founder of Travelocity and founding chairman of Kayak.com

This is a quick read with 72 clearly stated ideas about the innovation process. Each idea is introduced with an insightful quote appropriate to exploring the content and ends with questions to kick-start innovation. Although the book is focused on the corporate sector, the quotes, ideas and questions are easily transformed to fit higher education. Jones offers his readers in each section a treasure chest of quotes, ideas and questions that are extremely useful for creating innovations and determining how to influence organizational culture and behavior to positively affect innovation.

(Essential Ideas, Inc. 2012)

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by Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble is a must read for university and college executives as well as innovation and thought leaders in the corporate world.

The authors, faculty at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, draw on a decade of research from the corporate sector and present a detailed approach for successfully making innovation happen. The underlying concept of the book is that each innovation initiative needs a “special kind of team and a special kind of plan.” It provides a step-by-step innovation process that executives responsible for leading innovation and change will find very productive.

(Harvard Business Review Press, Boston, Massachusetts. 2010.)

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by C. K. Prahalad and M. S. Krishnan

the new age of Innovation: Driving Co-Created Value Through Global Networks by C. K. Prahalad and M. S. Krishnan is a somewhat heavy-duty read that provides a very rich context and direction for those leading innovation. The book defines a strategic approach for companies on reinventing their processes and culture to meet the changing needs of their customers. Its focus informs innovation leaders with a deep understanding of what it takes to survive and thrive in the turbulence of the 21st century.

(McGraw-Hill, New York. 2008)

C. K. Prahalad, who died in 2010, was a distinguished faculty member in the University of Michigan’s School of Business. In 2007 the Times of London named him “The World’s Most Influential Management Thinker.” Business Week described him to be “the most influential thinker on business strategy today.” Co-author Dr. Krishnan is also a distinguished faculty member in the School of Business at the University of Michigan.

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by Tom Peters

The Circle of Innovation by Tom Peters is an oldie but still very timely. The Circle of Innovation has 15 components that still have great potency for helping today’s leaders of innovation navigate the present and survive in the future. At the Circle’s center is the statement “you can’t shrink your way to greatness.” Its surrounding 15 points are: “Distance is Dead; Destruction is Cool!; You Can’t Live Without an Eraser; We are all Michelangelos; Welcome to the White-Collar Revolution; All Value Comes from Professional Services; The Intermediary is Doomed; The System is the Solution; Create Waves of Lust; Tommy Hilfiger Knows; Become a Connoisseur of Talent, It’s a Women’s World; Little Things are the Only Things; Love All, Serve All; and We’re Here to Live Life Out Loud.

Tom Peters is a management guru who stormed the American business world with his 1982 book, In Search of Excellence, written with Robert H. Waterman. The Circle of Innovation offers many ideas for all executives and their board members to think about, learn from and apply.

(Vintage Books, New York: 1999)

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by Eric Ries

This book is included in the top seven choices because it shows how entrepreneurship leads to innovative entrepreneurial startups that take over or replace the organization that generates it existence. The concept of continuous innovation can take place inside an organization as well as outside of it. Being able to understand how difficult it is to create entrepreneurial organizations outside of an existing organization is a critical to understanding why innovative entrepreneurship is difficult inside an organization and what can be done to make it successful. The description of the book contained on its cover flap states the message very well: The book “offer entrepreneurs—in companies of all sizes—a way to test their vision continuously, to adapt and adjust before it is too late. Ries provides a scientific approach to creating and managing successful startups in an age when companies need to innovate more than ever.” Universities and colleges as well as institutions and organization outside of the corporate world need to heed the call for supporting innovative entrepreneurship as a prerequisite for their survival.

Eric Reis is an entrepreneur and his Lean Startup methodology has become a hot topic in the corporate sector, where he has become a featured speaker and consultant. He is also entrepreneur- in-residence at the Harvard Business School.

(Crown Publishing Company, New York: 2011)

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by Clayton M. Christensen and Henry J. Eyring

This book is recommended as it explores Christensen’s disruptive theories in the context of higher education. It illustrates how all institutions can respond to disruptive innovations by reengineering themselves to avoid irrelevance and decline.

Christensen is a chaired professor in the Harvard Business School and founder of the Innosight Institute think tank. Eyring is an administrator at Brigham Young University (Idaho) and a strategy consultant. The Innovative University and Christensen’s other publications have become foundational when innovation is discussed and implemented at universities and colleges.

(Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Imprint, San Francisco. 2011)

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by Laurence N. Smith and Albert B. Blixt, Shannon E. Ellis, Stephen J. Gill and Kevin Kruger

Leading Innovation and Change is a manual for implementing systemic transformational change in colleges and universities. While written primarily for chief student affairs officers, this book is an excellent guide for any leader in higher education. The authors detail eight steps for revolutionizing the division of student affairs into a leader and producer of institution-wide innovation and change. They present a combination of organizational theory, effective strategies, helpful tools, and practical advice, and discuss the conditions that must be present for an organization to overcome resistance to change.

(NASPA, 2015)

A special invitation to our readers:

If you have a recommendation of a book you think should be added to this list, please share it with us. We will be glad to add it to our bibliography.

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