One of the most powerful sources of creativity is exposure to the best ideas from a broad range of industries.  More often than not, the idea that revolutionizes isn’t actually a new one.  Not in the sense that it’s an idea that’s never been had before.

Ideas that revolutionize are more often ideas that already exist in another industry and are simply borrowed and customized to fit.  Need an example?  Henry Ford visited the meat packing plant and observed the assembly line.  Prior to that aha moment, automobiles were put together, largely start to finish, individually.

I’ve found reading broadly is a great way to be exposed to ideas that I’d never have if I just read within my field.  Here are five books that deeply influenced me this year:

Bill Taylor’s Practically Radical: Not So Crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake Up Your Industry and Challenge Yourself  is an absolute must read.  Very much like my reaction to his previous book (Mavericks at Work), this one is so marked up, underlined, starred, and dog-eared…it’s obvious just from a quick glance that it was a powerful read.

One of the co-founders of Fast Company, Taylor is always an easy read.  Liberally sprinkled with stories and interviews, the pages fly by.  So many times though, I come across profound principles that must be digested.  Flip back a page or two.  Re-read a section.  And savor the principle.  Write it out on a post-it.  Carry it around in my wallet.  Repeat.

Practically Radical was easily the best book I read all year.  Loved it…and you will too!

The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry was a close second to the best book I read in 2011.  In the same way that Making Ideas Happen ended up on many reading lists in 2010, this book offers some of the most practical solutions for channeling creativity and doing great work.

If you’re like me, one of the most profound observations in Belsky’s Making Ideas Happen was that enough ideas are rarely the problem.  Starting and not finishing (often because you started another one) is the big issue.  The Accidental Creative is all about developing the practices that will help you start and finish projects and do the kind of work you really want to do.  Brilliant at a moments notice.

You can read my full review right here.

The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and Clayton M. Christensen is another great read.  A solid addition to the line of thinking that Christensen introduced with The Innovator’s Dilemma, the ideas and principles here are completely transferable to the kind of work you’re already doing.

I think the best aspect of The Innovator’s DNA is that the five skills are so practical and easily incorporated into daily practice.  This is the kind of read that will inspire application.  If you come away with even one or two new practices, you can’t help but increase the innovation happening in your work.

You can read my full review right here.

If you’ve ever read anything by Guy Kawasaki, you know that Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions is going to be a great read.  Once an evangelist, always an evangelist, Kawasaki is a very compelling writer.  At the same time, Enchantment is more than just his latest offering.  Like The Art of the Start, this one has the potential of becoming a sort of playbook for merchants of dreams.

Like Kawasaki’s previous books, this one is pretty marked up.  I especially liked the sidebars at the end of each chapter.  Great stories and very applicable practices make Enchantment a book you’ll pull off your shelf again and again for inspiration and next step ideas.  You can read my review right here.

The Idea Hunter: How to Find the Best Ideas and Make Them Happen by Andy Boynton and Bill Fischer is probably one you missed completely.  Continuing the theme that the best ideas are more often discovered elsewhere and then customized to fit, The Idea Hunter is packed with immediately implementable practices.

I loved part one on finding your gig!  The four concepts presented are easily put into practice.  I really loved the Ideawork sections that immediately followed each of their four concepts.  Seriously, this is a book that you probably missed, but ought to pick up.

You can read my full review right here.




Five Books You Probably Didn’t Read…But Absolutely Should Have