What’s there left to say about innovation? It’s one of those words that’s been thrown around for ages. And by now everybody realises it’s a massive must for sustaining the growth of your startup.

Yet from personal experience it’s something a lot of folks fail to grasp even when they claim to be or aim to be innovative. It’s one thing saying you’re going to do something, and an other to actually execute it.

Fortunately there’s loads of resources online to help you and your startup. But nothing really beats sitting down with a good old book or ebook reader to learn from the experts, who have been there on the front lines, developing new products and bringing them to end users.

Below you’ll find a list of books that will help foster a culture of creativity and innovation in your startup.

1. The Art of Innovation

top books on innovation

Written by Tom Kelley from IDEO, The Art of Innovation reflects upon their experience of over three decades in developing cool new products. Kelley describes their methodology in detail, so much so that you can easily apply these practices in your own startup.

On a personal note, this was one of the first books I read on the topic and think it’s the best resource to get started with.

For your startup, this book will teach you some valuable skills such as:

  • How to hold effective brainstorming sessions
  • How to research new ideas
  • How to quickly build a prototype
  • How to test them with your end users, and;
  • How to make yourself see the product from their perspective

But if you’re pressed for time, then this would be the book for you!

2. Democratising Innovation

top books about innovation for startups

Written by Eric von Hippel, Democratising Innovation examines the expanding role of end users in the innovation process. Von Hippel shares a vast array of empirical studies to make the case for open innovation and using existing users to develop new products.

Although at times it feels as though the focus is largely on large corporations – von Hippel does provide examples for software projects too.

Democratising Innovation outlines some convincing arguments why the traditional model of product development is broken, and how you – as a startup – would benefit immensely from cooperating with users.

3. The Myths of Innovation

facts about innovation

Everything you ever thought about innovation is wrong! Ok, not really everything, but when we hear tales of how ideas were born such as Archimedes’ “Eureka” moment – we usually hear the romanticised version of events.

Scott Berkun addresses the myths surrounding innovation and explains the reality behind the birth of ideas. But most importantly Berkun also discusses why most people don’t like ideas and the importance of problem finding.

The Myths of Innovation doesn’t leave anything to the imagination and Berkun does an excellent job illustrating examples to back up his claims.

For any startup, this book will show you the challenges you can expect when introducing a new product onto the market. But also tells you how to make your ideas stick.

4. The Ten Faces of Innovation

the people behind innovative ideas

Another book by IDEO’s Tom Kelley, who in this books, puts a face on innovation. Kelley describes the ten different types of people who drive innovation in an organisation and the value they deliver.

A great book for recognising the different roles people play and how they contribute to the creation and exection of new product ideas.

But another benefit to reading The Ten Faces of Innovation is that you’ll learn what it takes to adopt these roles in your startup. Which will help you see things from a different perspective and help generate and test new ideas.

5. Gamestorming

how to make meetings more effective

Let’s face it, getting your creativity flowing when the moment requires it, is no easy task. That’s where Gamestorming comes in to make your meetings productive and fun!

In this book, Dave Gray, Sunni Brown and Macanufo compile more than 80 games to help you generate ideas, develop better strategies and improve collaboration between team members.

As it’s mentioned in the title, this is a playbook for innovators, rulebreakers, and changemakers – all of which describe what a startup sets out to do!

6. The Innovator’s DNA

the innovators dna

Written by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen and Clayton Christensen, The Innovator’s DNA is all about the people behind the ideas. The authors joined forces for an eight year study to get a better understanding of disruptive innovators, who later published their findings in this book.

Dyer, Gregersen and Christensen interviewed 29 people which includes the likes of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Skype’s Niklas Zennströom and Dell’s Michael Dell. The Innovator’s DNA describes five characteristics they discovered to be common among the people the authors interviewed.

The book answers two simple, but essential questions for startups, how did they do it? And how could you do it too?

7. The Innovator’s Dilemma

the innovators dilemma

While the previous books focus on keeping tabs on your users and satisfying their needs – Clayton Christensen reveals how companies can fail by being too user-centric in their approach.

The Innovator’s Dilemma discusses how companies will miss the next big thing, by relying too much on what users say they want. Christensen suggests that even well-run companies are in danger of losing their dominant position in the market.

However Christensen does offer some quality advice on how your startup can avoid a similar fate.

8. Business Model Generation

business model generation

A must read for anyone who needs to wrap their head around business models or is still developing their own. Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur designed this book with the entrepreneur in mind by making it quick and easy to read through.

Business Model Generation delivers the essentials in the book, but is also complemented by a vibrant online community at Business Model Hub

The book places a huge empathise in displaying examples and core concepts visually to help give you an overview of everything. It is split into five section and starts off by presenting the widely used Business Model Canvas.

The best part about Business Model Generation is that it touches on every key point for setting up a startup and delivers a structured way of analysing your business potential.

Did we miss something? Let us know your favourite book on innovation in the comments section below.

Kostas Papageorgiou

Kostas specialises in content marketing and community management, who's focused on helping tech companies increase brand awareness and engagement to boost conversions.