As an innovation manager, drawing inspiration from those who have walked the ground before you is one of the most important tasks you have. "Innovation is about constant learning," Soren Kaplan, author of "The Invisible Advantage" and affiliated professor at the University of Southern California's Center for Effective Organizations, said in a recent Inc. article.

In the article, Kaplan lists his recommendations for books to "help you jump-start your brain, and your innovation process." The books on his list are all published within the last year. However, there are still plenty of must-reads released earlier.

Below, we've pulled together a reading list for those new to innovation management including Kaplan's recommendations and some of our personal favorites. This list is in no way exhaustive, but it's a great place to start.

  • "The New Science of Radical Innovation: The Six Competencies Leaders Need to Win in a Complex World" by Sunnie Giles

    About the book: In The New Science of Radical Innovation, professional executive coach and organizational scientist Dr. Sunnie Giles presents scientific evidences, methods, strategies, and step-by-step tools to dramatically and permanently change how leaders manage themselves, create connection with others, and achieve breakthrough innovation on both individual and organizational levels to come out on top.

  • "Innovation Nation: The Hidden Truth of How the Government Drives Change" by Taylor Fitzgerald 

    About the book: In Innovation Nation, Taylor Fitzgerald argues that the answer is a firm “no.” Innovation Nation will show you how the United States Federal Government has helped create the greatest innovations of the past century. From partnerships in private equity to startups and beyond, Fitzgerald exposes how a culture of modernization and dynamic change has been able to thrive within the federal government. Creating an environment of innovation can be difficult — but it is possible. 

  • "Fluid: How Culture, Hidden Opportunities, and Flatter Structures Lead to Profitable Innovation" by Najeeb Khan

    About the book: In ten years, half of the S&P 500 companies will be extinct. Forget the old rules of competition. There are new hidden competitors that come from nowhere to take over your market. They can be external or within your company. This book explores the past, present, and future of innovation. Discover how the Mongol Dynasty innovated to create one of the largest empires in the world to how to take the best elements of startups today to thrive and win the future. Fluid will help you lead your business through the opportunities and dangers of a dynamic economy.

  • "Quirky: The Remarkable Story of the Traits, Foibles, and Genius of Breakthrough Innovators Who Changed the World" by Melissa A. Schilling

    About the book: What really distinguishes the people who literally change the world--those creative geniuses who give us one breakthrough after another? What differentiates Marie Curie or Elon Musk from the merely creative, the many one-hit wonders among us? Schilling shares the science behind the convergence of traits that increases the likelihood of success. And, as Schilling also reveals, there is much to learn about nurturing breakthrough innovation in our own live.
  • "The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups" by Daniel Coyle

    About the book: In The Culture Code, Daniel Coyle goes inside some of the world’s most successful organizations—including the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team Six, IDEO, and the San Antonio Spurs—and reveals what makes them tick. He demystifies the culture-building process by identifying three key skills that generate cohesion and cooperation, and explains how diverse groups learn to function with a single mind. 

  • "When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing" by Daniel H. Pink

    About the book: Everyone knows that timing is everything. But we don't know much about timing itself. Our lives are a never-ending stream of "when" decisions: when to start a business, schedule a class, get serious about a person. Yet we make those decisions based on intuition and guesswork. In When, Pink distills cutting-edge research and data on timing and synthesizes them into a fascinating, readable narrative packed with irresistible stories and practical takeaways that give readers compelling insights into how we can live richer, more engaged lives.

  • "Verizon Untethered: An Insider's Story of Innovation and Disruption" by Ivan Seidenberg and Scott McMurray

    About the book: The Verizon leadership team stands apart from most leadership teams today in their willingness repeatedly to put the enterprise before the individual. At first blush, this might look like a hopelessly old-fashioned notion in the age of the selfie. Yet, I would argue this is a trait that future leaders and boards of directors across industries would do well to understand and embrace. A history of the transformation of Verizon and the telecommunications industry.

More Essential Reading

What do you think? Which books would you have on an essentials list?

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