12 Books Every Corporate Innovator Should Read in 2023

A list of summer reads by some of the brightest minds in business, covering everything form navigating uncertainty, to capitalising on the AI boom to beating startups at the innovation game and much more.

A list of summer reads by some of the brightest minds in business, covering everything form navigating uncertainty, to capitalising on the AI boom to beating startups at the innovation game and much more.
A list of summer reads by some of the brightest minds in business, covering everything form navigating uncertainty, to capitalising on the AI boom to beating startups at the innovation game and much more.

That’s right folks, it’s that time of the year again. Summer has officially arrived and we’re kicking things off with an all new list of top summer reads for corporate entrepreneurs just like you.

This year’s list is hot off the press, with works published mostly in 2022 and 2023, covering some of the most pressing topics shaping our corporate landscape today. What to expect? Practical tips, guidance and insights from some of the brightest minds in business on everything from navigating uncertainty, to capitalising on the AI boom to beating startups at the innovation game and much more.

So sit back, relax, grab your favourite drink and get ready to be inspired. Happy reading.   

1. Mastering Uncertainty: How great founders, entrepreneurs and business leaders thrive in an unpredictable world

By: Matt Watkinson and Csaba Konkoly 

Published: 2023

Website

We live in a world that is increasingly complex, fast-moving, unpredictable and uncontrollable. So, what gives founders, innovators and entrepreneurs the edge they need to succeed amidst all that uncertainty? This book addresses that pressing question with handy tips and insights to help you understand: 

  • The nature of uncertainty and how it shapes our lives 
  • How to capitalise on the opportunities it brings 
  • When to make big bets and when to walk away

In just over 240 pages, authors Matt Watkinson (author of The Grid) and Csaba Konkoly (serial entrepreneur and investor) provide actionable advice to help you navigate uncertainty, leverage your networks, identify red flags and make the most of your assets. 

Check out this article for more tips: How Corporate Venturing Can Help You Beat Uncertainty.

Why read it?

It provides practical insights to help you thrive in today’s uncertain landscape, with actionable strategies for managing risk, making better decisions, and seizing opportunities.

2. I, Human: AI, Automation, and the Quest to Reclaim What Makes Us Unique

By: Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic 

Published: 2023

Website

With AI playing an increasingly important role in our everyday business (and lives), professor of business psychology, Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic tackles the dilemma we’re all wondering about: Is AI a friend or foe?  

The book takes a closer look at the potential AI has to reshape our society, both positively (e.g. boosting productivity and creating new experiences) and negatively (e.g. making us more self-centred, biased, and impatient). 

I, Human offers a unique lens into how you can thrive amidst increasing AI dominance, emphasising our need to bolster our adaptability, emotional intelligence, and innate human virtues. As we stand on the brink of an AI-induced transformation potentially as profound as the Industrial Revolution, Chamorro-Premuzic provides a compelling guide to reclaiming our uniqueness and defining our place in an AI-driven future.

Why read it?

For a glimpse at what an AI-dominated future can potentially look like as well as insights on how to thrive within it.

3. The Unicorn Within: How Companies Can Create Game-Changing Ventures at Startup Speed

By: Linda K. Yates

Published: 2022

Website

Can corporates beat startups at their own game? Author and CEO of Mach49, Linda Yates thinks so, and she makes a compelling case for it. In her book, she argues that corporations already have the ideas, talent, brand, capital and customers they need to build a diversified portfolio of growth-driving ventures that will enable them to thrive in today’s landscape.

The book advocates a structured, execution-focused method for venture creation that incorporates ideation, incubation, acceleration, and scaling. Beyond creating a single venture, Yates lays out her blueprint for a Venture Factory designed to sustain growth and innovation over time. Her insights equip CEOs, C-suite members, and internal entrepreneurs to nurture their own Unicorns, regardless of industry or geography, driving their companies to the forefront of innovation.

Why read it?

For practical insights into how to boost growth and create a culture of innovation that will future-proof your business for years to come. 

4. Founder vs Investor: The Honest Truth About Venture Capital from Startup to IPO

By: Elizabeth Joy Zalman, Jerry Neumann 

Published: 2023

Website

Founders bring the creativity and drive, while investors bring funding and expertise, a match made in heaven. Or is it? In Founder vs Investor, authors Elizabeth Zalman and Jerry Neumann dissect the often misunderstood dynamics between founders and investors: 

  • Debunking the myth that this type of alliance is always harmonious
  • Pinpointing underlying differences in goals and perceived success
  • Highlighting how this can break a venture at different points in its lifecycle

The book argues that for a partnership to work both founders and investors need to go in understanding each other's motivations, and differences in goals when it comes to, raising money, scaling, exiting and more. The result is an essential guide for any entrepreneur or investor seeking to navigate the venture capital landscape more effectively.

Why read it?

For practical insights into the world of venture capital, navigating complex founder-investor relationships and what it takes to build a successful venture. 

5. Beyond Disruption: Innovate and Achieve Growth without Displacing Industries, Companies, or Jobs

By: W. Chan Kim, Renée A. Mauborgne 

Published: 2023

Website

In their first book, Blue Ocean Strategy, authors Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgn changed how we view strategy, advocating for the creation of uncontested market spaces, over constantly trying to outperform rivals to grow (i.e. creation over competition). Now they're back with new insights that will change and expand the way you think about innovation and growth.

Their new book, Beyond Disruption, challenges the view of innovation as a destructive force, known for displacing jobs, companies, and even entire industries and introduces a new approach: nondisruptive creation. The authors do a great job of illustrating the advantages of non-disruptive creation in both business and society with cross-sectoral examples and a practical framework to help guide your innovation efforts.

Why read it?

It's a must-read for innovators and entrepreneurs looking to drive innovation and growth in a way that balances business success with societal wellbeing.

6. Corporate Rebels: Make work more fun

By: Joost Minnaar, Pim de Morree 

Published: 2020

Website

With burnouts on the rise, work dissatisfaction increasing, and so many people quitting their jobs that it now has a name (the great resignation), it’s clear that today’s workplace is missing something. 

In this book, authors Joost Minnaar and Pim de Morree argue that the missing ingredient is fun, highlighting the transformational power of shifting the corporate culture to make it more fulfilling and engaging. Drawing from their extensive experience visiting over 100 of the world's most forward-thinking organisations, they do a great job showcasing how enjoyable and rewarding work can coexist with (and even lead to) enhanced performance and success.

Featuring over 20 exemplary corporate cultures, the Corporate Rebels is a treasure trove of insights on how to revamp employee engagement, redefine company culture, and instigate change in the workplace. 

Why read it?

Its practical approach, and tangible examples make it a must-read for anyone inspired to revolutionise their workplace.

7. When Machines Become Customers

By: Don Scheibenreif and Mark Raskino

Published: 2023

Website

There have been plenty of discussions around how AI affects the way businesses operate, produce and manufacture, but few have tackled the subject from an “AI as customer” point of view. In a world where smart refrigerators can place grocery orders, and virtual assistants can pay bills, you might say machines are doing the shopping for us already. 

But what will happen when AI doesn’t just shop on our behalf but acts independently? In this book, authors Scheibenreif and Raskino provide a glimpse into a not-so-distant future where AI does just that, arguing the shift will have the potential to reshape entire industries.

So how do you market to a customer that doesn’t fall for powerful imagery, slogans or company values? Start by checking out this book. 

Why read it?

It's an essential guide for anyone who wants to understand the next big shift in our corporate landscape. 

8. Startup Program Design: A Practical Guide for Creating Accelerators and Incubators at Any Organisation

By: Paolo Lombardi and Adam Berk 

Published: 2022

Website

In this book, authors Paolo Lombardi and Adam Berk provide a hands-on approach to infusing your organisation with the energy and creativity of a startup. Unlike other books that discuss innovation from a theoretical perspective, this guide is action-oriented and concentrates on tangible outcomes.

Drawing from established “best practices” of successful early-stage investors, this book is full of tried-and-true strategies designed to help readers implement effective open innovation practices. 

Filled with real-life examples, insightful interviews with program managers, and lessons learned from past ventures, this guide uses diagrams and canvases to simplify the innovation process. The result? A step-by-step, logical roadmap that paves the way for scalable and repeatable results.

Why read it?

It’s full of tools, insights and strategies to help you design and implement an innovation strategy that really works. 

9. The Business Case for AI: A Leader's Guide to AI Strategies, Best Practices & Real-World Applications

By: Kavita Ganesan 

Published: 2022

Website

Want to capitalise on the AI boom but not sure how to start? If the answer is yes, then this one’s for you. In this book, author Kavita Ganesan does a great job of showcasing the possible implementations of AI in business, showing readers how to incorporate it within their existing systems and processes to:

  • Optimise operations and boost productivity
  • Retain and gain customers
  • Identify potent AI opportunities
  • Prepare their organisation for AI transitions
  • Measure AI performance effectively
  • Distinguish the AI hype from the truth

All with real-world examples. Written in an accessible and engaging style, free from technical jargon and data science, The Business Case for AI is an essential read for leaders looking to invigorate their AI strategy, better manage AI initiatives, or find inspiration for their AI and machine learning applications. 

Why read it?

It’s a detailed, easy-to-understand and practical guide for AI success in any business context.

10. What We Owe the Future

By: William MacAskill

Published: 2022

Website

In his thought-provoking and optimistic look at the future and the role humanity plays in it, author and Oxford Associate Professor William MacAskill urges us to consider the far-reaching impact of our actions and choices. He lays out the concept of longtermism, arguing that our paramount ethical obligation is to shape a positive future. 

The book looks beyond resolving immediate crises like climate change or pandemics, advocating for readiness against civilisation collapse, moral regression, and a world dominated by artificial intelligence. 

Why read it?

It’s a wake-up call for creating a legacy where future humans not only survive but flourish in a just and hopeful world.

11. Future Ready: The Four Pathways to Capturing Digital Value

By: Stephanie Woerner, Peter Weill, Ina M. Sebastian 

Published: 2022

Website

Even today, most companies are still trying to master their digital transformations, a challenging journey that can result in failure to deliver results, wasted resources, added complexity and worse. That is, unless you do it right.    

With that goal in mind, the authors provide a solid, field-tested "four pathways" framework to get the job done, based on extensive research from over a thousand companies. The book serves as a strategic playbook, offering insights about:

  • What it takes to be competitive
  • Managing organisational disruptions 
  • Benchmarking performance

The book also contains instructive examples, insightful analyses, and clarifying visuals designed to help you thrive in the digital era. 

Why read it?

It offers proven strategies for building a digital business model, leveraging emerging technologies, and creating a culture of innovation.

12. Quit: The Power of Knowing When to Walk Away

By: Annie Duke

Published: 2022

Website

Can mastering the art of quitting lead to greater success? Author Annie Duke makes a compelling case for it in her book, observing that people tend to struggle letting go of everything from million-dollar-ventures to relationships, even when they no longer serve their interests.   

She helps readers navigate this challenge with practical tools and strategies for assessing when it's time to step away, arguing that timely quitting can save time, energy, and money. 

In addition, Duke provides a novel approach to decision-making by introducing the concept of expected value, arguing for increased flexibility in goal-setting, and suggesting innovative practices such as setting up "quitting contracts," anticipating optionality and conducting premortems and backcasts.

The book also features inspiring examples across a variety of situations, including successful entrepreneurs like Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield and entertainers like Dave Chappelle.

Why read it?

It equips readers with the insights and tools they need to face crucial business and personal choices head-on and know when to step away.

Your thoughts?

We hope to have inspired your summer reading list this year, and we’d love to hear your thoughts on the books above. If you like to discuss any of these topics or add a new book to the list, let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

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