My very favorite #books on #innovation : A to I

I decided to create a list of my 10 favorite innovation books…but came up with 15. It was hard enough to narrow the list to nearly 10 – no way I was going to try to rank order them. So here are the first seven in alphabetical order by author. (No slight intended for Eric von Hippel and Gerry Tellis!)

I teach and research innovation and read a lot of books, but I do not claim to have performed a methodical or scholarly study… In fact my leg work for this post consisted of walking around my university and home offices, pulling books off the shelf, and asking myself: did I enjoy this? what do I remember? was it really good?


  1. Tim Brown                 Change by Design

I am annoyed by the exposure that IDEO gets in the creativity and innovation space. I would like to have not included anyone from IDEO in this list. Yet somehow I ended up with TWO books on it. I use this book in my MBA innovation class – it is a solid introduction to the concepts of design thinking.

  1. David Burkus             Myths of Creativity

This is a list of books about innovation. I will likely do a separate list on creativity. Yet I think Burkus catches many of the traps that would-be innovators fall into. Good read for students and innovators. Plus I like his blog.

  1. Henry Chesbrough   Open Innovation

This book has had a huge influence on innovation research and practice. Companies such as P&G have been influenced by it. I agree with Eric von Hippel’s criticism that users and customers are the most important collaborators, yet get little attention from Chesbrough. However few books have had so much influence on the practice of innovation.

  1. Clayton Christensen The Innovators Dilemma

Has anyone not heard about disruptive innovation? You must read this book if you haven’t already! Disruption is allegedly coming everywhere… even to nice sleepy universities!! I am glad that in setting the ground rules for this list I limited myself to one book per author. Otherwise I would have had trouble keeping The Innovator’s DNA, and maybe The Innovator’s Solution or Disrupting Class off this list. I own a lot of Christensen books.

  1. Peter Drucker             Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The classic. Another one that you have to read if you haven’t already. And maybe should read again if you have. (I have a plan to re-read it this semester.)

  1. Abbie Griffin               Serial Innovators

The author of the famed Marketing Science article “Voice of the Customer” and long time editor of the product development journal, JPIM, was part of a team that studied serial intrapreneurs – people responsible for multiple radical or really new innovations within corporations. Many interesting common traits emerge. One is a deep expertise in a technology or function combined with an interest in an unrelated area… to get the rest read it!


Until personal issues intervened I planned to study for my Ph.D. at UIUC and be a research assistant to Abbie Griffin and Jeff Schmidt. Abbie continued to be a mentor even when my plans changed and was a VERY active member of my dissertation committee. Clayton Christensen wrote me a couple nice emails as I contemplated returning to school at a relatively advanced age. Several other of the included authors have been kind to me, but that is not why they are on this list – it is because their books influenced me.

I honestly don’t think personal affect influenced this list. However had someone been a jerk to me, I probably wouldn’t list a book she or he authored!


7.  Walter Isaacson          The Innovators

Steve Jobs (the book) was pretty cool. So is this look at multiple people responsible for the digital age!

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