Linchpin


Back from Copenhagen and getting over jet lag. So catching up on my reading and went looking for a little treasure that is a great start to the Fall madness.  Seth Godin put this book out in 2010 and if you haven’t done so, its worth the read. Our economy is sluggish and the only people who can pick it up – is us. Linchpin is a reminder – sometimes not so gentle – but maybe a little push is needed. One of the quotes from the book that sticks in my mind is “Raising the bar is easier than it looks, and it pays for itself. If your boss won’t raise your bar, you should.”

Maybe its the influence of hanging out for the summer at a world-class business school in Copenhagen. Maybe its heat stroke. But it gets me to thinking. What if we all decided to raise the bar? Regardless of what our employers expect? What if we all started to change the ending of our own journey? Godin speaks to the fact that many of us have been asked to hide our empathy and our creativity in service to a job description which is more than likely, outdated. What if we went outside our own ‘box’ and started using our innate creativity – for our own purpose? Even if you aren’t sure what your purpose is, you probably won’t find it in your job description. Your family doesn’t know either or else you wouldn’t be looking for it now.

So a little expansion while we still have great weather?  Methinks its worth the effort.  Part of my expansion is working on a Tedx talk for September 14th in MIlton, Ontario. A little part scary and a big part exciting. The theme? Linchpins. Hope to see you there.

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

 

Culturematic


I have been following the work of Grant McCracken for a while and have yet to be disappointed.    McCracken is an anthropologist that studies culture in organizations and has taught at MIT, Harvard and is a visiting scholar at the University of Cambridge. Following his previous work Chief Culture Officer in 2011, his latest book on Culture is just as informative and more importantly, for summer reading, entertaining. Culturematic is about making an ingenuity engine that drives performance – something sorely needed in this economy. For emerging producers of culture, this book serves as a digital guide to the territory. For traditional producers of culture – hopefully the book will act as a source of inspiration. How to manage innovation from the C-suite? This book provides some welcome guidelines for creating a culture of innovation.  If you want to get ahead of your competition, the most secret sauce of competitive advantage is your culture. McCracken shows you both why and how. He blogs extensively at culture by.com on the intersection points between anthropology and economics.  Worth checking out.

Culturematic: How Reality TV, John Cheever, a Pie Lab, Julia Child, Fantasy Football . . . Will Help You Create and Execute Breakthrough Ideas

Think Better


Last week I spent in Ottawa with the Conference Board as an advisor to the National Council for Client Relationships and Customer Experience. One of the presenters had some interesting tools to offer for innovative thinking.  Tim Hurson’s book, Think Better, is a great find for anyone struggling with shifting to an innovative culture. Full of brainstorming tools, you can only create the future by beginning to imagine it. This book is food for thought.

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Think Better: An Innovator’s Guide to Productive Thinking

Digital Innovation Playbook


If you are looking for an interesting book to start off 2012, the Digital Innovation Playbook might be for you.  Author and Innovator Nicholas Webb has provided his unique perspective on the use of digital and social media to drive customer value.  Rules of successful innovation management have changed drastically. Topical questions such as:

o  How does the digital universe is driving the most innovative organizations?

o  How do you increase breakthrough in incremental innovation?

o  How do you digitize open innovation?

o and for all you number crunchers out there, How do you build sales while reducing costs?

will be explored and answered.  Do you need a digital culture? Yes, most certainly.  Corporate culture is the foundation on which you build your organization and your ability to innovate.  Webb speaks to the need for active listening – a novel concept to many organizations who pay lip service to ‘customer feedback’ but do not actually listen to what their customers want.  Digital technologies can provide a listening platform that will drive profitability and develop an authentic relationship with your customer. Why pay attention? As Peter Drucker so wisely stated “there will be two kinds of managers – those who think in terms of a world economy and those who are unemployed.”  Webb gives insights into reaching and listening to that world economy.  You choose which manager you wish to be.

Best wishes for 2012!

The Digital Innovation Playbook: Creating a Transformative Customer Experience

Grow from Within: Mastering Corporate Entrepreneurship and Innovation


Robert Wolcoot and Michael Lippitz are both from the Kellogg School of Management and have written an interesting guidebook for breathing new life into organizations. Taking innovation to a new level, corporate entrepreneurship is building new businesse within the framework of the old business.  One of the most important issues addressed by Grow from Within, is how to link your innovation program with corporate strategy.  Designing a new business enterprise is largely about defining and more importantly, implementing a new business model.  As Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft likes to point out: All products and businesses go through three distinct phases – vision, patience and execution. This book will give you some valuable insight into those phases and how you can import them into your current organization. Check out the website as well.

Grow from Within: Mastering Corporate Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Seeing Differently


John Seely Brown has long been a favourite author of mine.  His insights on innovation are timeless and this book proves no exception.  First introduced in 1988 and revised most recently in 1997, Seeing Differently is worth revisiting.  Why?  John Ruskin (Modern Painters) in 1888 says it best –

“The greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something, and tell what it saw in a plain way. Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see. To see clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion — all in one.”

To do things differently, we must see differently.  Seely Brown shows us how.

Seeing Differently: Insights on Innovation

Design-Driven Innovation


The Italians have known something about design for centuries so it should be no surprise to find this book coming out of Milan. Roberto Verganti has written an elegant treatise on the principles of design and how they apply to driving a culture of innovation that creates new markets, new ideas and new paradigms. Juicy!