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December 27, 2011

News & Opinion: The Little Black Book of Innovation

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 5:59 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

What a better time to think about innovation than the start of a new year? As we attempt to make this year more successful and fulfilled than the previous, we think about new ways to do what we do, ways to refine our efforts, and ultimately, grow as individuals. Innovation might be the way to achieve those things, but the problem is that we're often not sure exactly what innovation even means, let alone how to practice it. What does innovation mean to you? Scott D. Anthony, in his new book, The Little Black Book of Innovation: How It Works, How To Do It, defines innovation simply as: "Something different that has impact." On the surface, that might seem too simple, but Anthony explains how 'different' means something per individual, which then can be directed at various audiences, and impact is a measurable result whose parameters are set by the innovator. So, now that we first understand what innovation means to us, we might have an easier time getting to the ideas and actions that will be recognized as innovative. There is a fair amount of philosophy in the book, and with a subject so ill-defined, yet so sought after, it makes sense to begin the approach to it in a way that helps each reader come to the same understanding. Anthony, a student and researcher for Clay Christensen, was fascinated by his approach to the topic, which lead him on the path to produce this book - a fairly compact, straightforward collection of his own thoughts, as well as the brightest minds of the discipline - Drucker, Edison, Rita McGrath, of course Christensen, and many more. His goal with the book is for it to be a reference guide that can be read through, and picked up again and again for helpful info anytime some inspiration for innovation is needed. But it's not all philosophy. Sections on starting a 28-day innovation program, how to compete against nonconsumption, finding nonobvious opportunities, and being certain that an opportunity is real, are very helpful in putting the ideas into action. Powerful for a team, this is the kind of book that can help a group of people start producing innovative ideas rather than getting bogged down in the creative thinking process. Here's to the new year being your most innovative yet.  

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.