Innovation and a Body of Knowledge
I'm not going to speculate on the reasons people aren't aware of, or don't delve into, the Body of Knowledge that supports innovation. I will, however, list some books and thinkers whose works should be on your desk, at least, if you have innovation as a title or a responsibility.
First, you need to know about Alex Osborn and the Creative Problem Solving Process. Osborn developed much of the original concepts around idea generation that we still use today.
Next, you need to know about Clayton Christensen, who dramatically re-invigorated innovation as a corporate or strategic tool with his book The Innovator's Dilemma. While Christensen and his co-authors have written other, very valuable books about innovation, this is the one that you need on your shelves.
We like a number of authors who have written books about specific innovation topics, including:
- Peter Schwartz, who wrote the Art of the Long View, about Scenario Planning
- Henry Chesbrough, who wrote Open Innovation, about, well, Open Innovation
- Eric von Hippl, who wrote Democratizing Innovation, which incorporates the concept of lead users
- Gary Hamel, who wrote The Future of Management, focused on using innovation to change the way we structure organizations and change corporate hierarchies
- Roger von Oech, who wrote A Whack on the Side of the Head, one of the best books to spark creativity.
- Group Genius by Keith Sawyer, which identifies the best ways to get ideas from your teams
- Think Better by Tim Hurson, which focuses on idea generation facilitation
- Blue Ocean Strategy by Kim and Mauborgne, which focuses on finding new markets or customer niches
- Intangible Capital by Mary Adams, which identifies intangible ideas and intellectual property as the new capital
- Business Model Generation a great book that was actually crowdsourced!
- Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono, for more creativity
Once you have these books and gain the skills defined in these books and others, you need to refresh and replenish your skills regularly. There are hundreds of innovation training courses, creativity courses and seminars, and new tools like storytelling and design competencies that will add to, and extend your capabilities.
Innovation is not a black art or a capability that must be constructed from scratch. There is plenty of good documentation and thinking available in the public domain that describes how to do the work, and innovators who ignore it do so at their own peril.