The 9 Best Innovation Books for Innovators, Entrepreneurs & Intrapreneurs


I wrote Lean B2B to help entrepreneurs apply the Lean Startup methodology in B2B. It’s something I had struggled with, and a reality I was aware of.

Among the happy discoveries that followed the publication of the book was the realization that the second largest group of buyers (after B2B founders) was innovation consultants and intrapreneurs. Not only did they buy the book, they also found a lot of value in the content.

Organizations like the Netherlands Aerospace Centre, ING and Altran have used Lean B2B to prioritize innovation projects and capture requirements from business customers.

Innovation and entrepreneurship often go hand-in-hand in these organizations: To build or to buy is a question innovation managers have to answer. Businesses need to decide which innovation projects to fund.

To help assess innovation projects, I have put together a list of the 9 best books on innovation:

The Top Business Innovation Books

The Best Innovation Books in 2018 – Diffusion of Innovations

Diffusion of Innovations – Everett M. Rogers

One of the most important early innovation books, and the only book about farming on this list. Diffusion of Innovations is a great example of how technological changes impact all sectors.

The book introduced the different categories of adopters (innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards), on which Geoffrey Moore expanded in Crossing the Chasm. It also created some of the early theories around innovation adoption in large organizations.

The Best Innovation Books in 2018 – Blue Ocean Strategy

Blue Ocean Strategy – W. Chan Kim, Renée Mauborgne

A global bestseller among business leaders. Blue Ocean Strategy introduced a useful framework to understand the relative positioning of offerings and businesses.

Blue Ocean Strategy draws a comparison between the way businesses compete in red oceans, where companies compete in an existing market space and work to exploit existing demand, and blue oceans, where companies capture new demand by creating (and competing on) new parameters.

The Best Innovation Books in 2018 – Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Practice and Principles – Peter F. Drucker

The first book to define entrepreneurship as a systematic discipline. Innovation and Entrepreneurship remains as relevant today as it was 30 years ago when it was published.

The book advocates focus, building from a position of strength, and being market-driven. It’s a great read to understand the differences in the practices of innovation and entrepreneurship and create the processes to make innovation projects successful in organizations.

The Best Innovation Books in 2018 – The Lean Startup

The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses – Eric Ries

The book that kickstarted the Lean Startup movement, and inspired Lean B2B. The Lean Startup looks at how organizations can create greater levels of agility through continuous experimentation.

Minimum viable products (MVP), validated learning, innovation accounting, and the build-measure-loop are just some of the innovation tools that were popularized by The Lean Startup.

The Best Innovation Books in 2018 – The Innovator's Dilemma

The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail – Clayton M. Christensen

One of my favorite innovation books. The Innovator’s Dilemma demonstrates how incumbents have historically been disrupted by more focused and nimble technology companies.

The theory behind the book was widely adopted by the tech sector. Some of the largest technology companies today, like Facebook, now actively seek out products, platforms and companies with the potential to disrupt them (e.g. WhatsApp and Instagram acquisitions).

The Best Innovation Books in 2018 – Lean Enterprise

Lean Enterprise: How High Performance Organizations Innovate at Scale – Jez Humble, Joanne Molesky, Barry O’Reilly

To effect change in an organization, intrapreneurs need buy-in from management and processes to quickly respond to market changes.

Lean Enterprise looks at how The Lean Startup can be used to change processes and influence upper-management. It offers a lot of valuable advice on how to move fast at scale and change the organization. It’s a must-read if you’re in charge of an innovation project within a large organization.

The Best Innovation Books in 2018 – Creativity, Inc

Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration – Ed Catmull, Amy Wallace

Creativity, Inc looks at the creative and innovation processes of Academy Award–winning animation studio Pixar.

The book looks at the unique environment that Pixar built to maximize creative throughput and become one of the most profitable movie studios. There’s a lot to learn from this book in terms of leadership and creativity management, which are both key in innovation.

The Best Innovations Books in 2018 – Subject To Change

Subject To Change: Creating Great Products & Services for an Uncertain World – Peter Merholz, Todd Wilkens, Brandon Schauer, David Verba

Subject to Change was written by the partners of Adaptive Path, a now-defunct experience strategy and design agency.

The book explains why companies need to develop qualitative customer research capacities to understand customer behaviors and inform innovation projects. It’s a great primer on making an organization more customer-centric and market-driven.

The Best Innovation Books in 2018 – Making Ideas Happen

Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality – Scott Belsky

Innovation won’t succeed without good execution. If your organization has great ideas, but doesn’t have the processes and people in place to realize them, it won’t be able to make a dent in the market.

Making Ideas Happen will help you build the capacity to make ideas happen. The book offers a lot of actionable advices to improve productivity and create better products.

Do you agree with my list? What are your must-read innovation books? Tweet at @LeanB2B.

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