Summer is finally here! And what better time to kick back, relax and catch up on the latest trends and practices shaping our corporate landscape. With that goal in mind, we’ve put together our yearly list of summer reads for corporate innovators just like you.
This year’s list contains books written by cutting-edge thought leaders, entrepreneurs and best-selling authors on everything from driving corporate sustainability to scaling to competing in the age of AI. Each one is chock-full of the latest business insights and practical tips published between 2019 and 2022.
We hope they’ll entertain and inspire you!
1. Product-Led SEO: The Why Behind Building Your Organic Growth Strategy
By Eli Schwartz
Over the years, SEO has grown far beyond just keywords at a head-spinning rate. This has left many companies struggling to understand the complexities of creating a successful SEO strategy that consistently drives traffic, leads, and sales.
Author Eli Schwartz has helped companies like Tinder, Coinbase and WordPress (just to name a few) develop and implement organic growth strategies that drive 100s of millions in annual revenue.
In his book, he demystifies the SEO process so that you can create your own unique strategy using a mix of logic and creativity. He side-steps the typical one-size-fits-all, step-by-step approach and instead helps you develop a distinctive process through trial and error. The goal? Long-term, scalable SEO results that help you stand out from the competition and make your content more visible to your target audience.
2. Lead and Disrupt: How to Solve the Innovator's Dilemma (2nd Edition)
If you liked the original, you’ll love this new, fully revised edition of Lead and Disrupt. In the book, authors Charles O’Reilly and Michael Tushman tackle the question: Why is it so challenging for mature organisations to innovate?
The question has become more pressing than ever in our post-pandemic landscape, accelerating the need to adapt and radically transforming countless industries from airlines to healthcare to retail (just to name a few).
This book is a compilation of lessons learned by the authors as well as consultants and industry experts on how to successfully implement disruptive change. New examples and analysis have been added to each chapter from firms like Microsoft, GM, and Amazon, illustrating how corporate leaders can:
- Align their organisational culture to fit the needed strategy
- Use different ideation, incubation, and scaling approaches to drive growth
It introduces the reader to the concept of ambidextrous leadership and sheds light on the power of company culture as a competitive advantage.
3. Zero to IPO: Over $1 Trillion of Actionable Advice from the World's Most Successful Entrepreneurs
In this Wallstreet Journal bestseller, Author Frederic Kerrest shares the insights he’s gained talking to successful entrepreneurs and investors from Silicon Valley and beyond. He combines that with his own experiences at Salesforce and later as co-founder of Okta (a software company now valued at over $40 billion) to break down what successful entrepreneurship entails (e.g. what works, what doesn’t and what to do when things get rough).
The result? An actionable blueprint for building and scaling businesses that has been tried and tested.
Some of the book’s contributors include Eric Yuan from Zoom, Stewart Butterfield from Slack, Julia Hartz from Eventbrite, Melanie Perkins from Canva and Patty McCord from Netflix (among others).
4. Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive by Giving More Than They Take
Named “Best Business Book of the Year” by the Financial Times, Net Positive paints an optimistic picture showing how companies can tackle issues like sustainability and inequality while still driving growth. In the book, authors Paul Polman (former CEO of Unilever) and Andrew Winston (corporate sustainability expert) debunk many of today’s most prevalent corporate myths, including the idea that:
- A company’s only function is to maximise profits
- Current “Corporate Social Responsibility” practices can save our planet
Using real-world examples; the authors illustrate how companies can succeed by giving back to the world more than they take. The approach is intended to inspire corporate leaders to take action with examples of how to leverage innovation to:
- Build trust
- Attract talent
- Delight customers
- Secure continuous growth
All while creating a more inclusive workplace and a healthier planet. The main idea is: “Heal the world first, and you’ll satisfy your investors as a result.”
5. Data Means Business: Level up your organisation to adapt, evolve and scale in an ever-changing world
Big data is playing an increasingly vital role in the success of today’s businesses, making them stronger, more adaptable and competitive. However, becoming a truly data-led organisation can be a challenge, especially in large enterprises.
This book provides a practical framework to help companies build a pragmatic, data-guided culture. The first step in getting the most out of your data and using it to generate impactful growth. These are just some of the topics covered by the authors:
- How to create a narrative that inspires organisational change
- How to leverage start-up strategies to deliver agile growth
- How to build an adaptable data strategy focused on business outcomes
- How to build cross-functional teams to develop value-generating data products
It’s an overall great guide to help corporate innovators understand the growing importance of big data and how to implement successful data management practices.
6. Amp It Up: Leading for Hypergrowth by Raising Expectations, Increasing Urgency, and Elevating Intensity
Having led his company Snowflake to the largest IPO ever, CEO and author Frank Slootman describes his approach to transformation, growth and scale in his new book “Amp It Up”. In his book, Sloorman explains how corporate leaders can improve organisational performance without bringing in costly consultants or changing their teams, structures or fundamental business models.
Instead, he advocates for leaders to align fully with their teams and execute daily decisions and activities with urgency and intensity. He also provides readers with actionable principles to make real change as well as practical advice to prime the company for that change. Perfect for anyone looking to unleash hypergrowth by making the most of their existing assets.
7. Lean Scaleup
By Frank Mattes
Author Frank Mattes (founder and CEO of innovation-3) takes an in-depth look at the challenges large companies face when trying to scale their innovations to achieve real business impact. The exploration helps readers understand the reason why 85 to 90% of corporate startups fail to succeed after the MVP stage.
We caught up with Frank to discuss his book and how corporations can become scaling machines, watch the full interview here.
Drawing on the his experiences as an entrepreneur and the insights provided by over 20 leading companies, Lean Scaleup provides detailed guidance to help corporate innovators:
- Navigate the journey from idea to scale and beyond
- Finding the right leadership team
- Building the right culture
- Understand the importance of collaboration
The result is an actionable, three-point framework to achieve business-building success. The framework includes a methodology (e.g. how to), dual leadership and culture/collaboration.
A new edition of the book is currently in the works to be published later this year or in early 2023. You can also find quite a few valuable resources by by visiting the Lean Startup website.
8. Fail Fast, Learn Faster: Lessons in Data-Driven Leadership in an Age of Disruption, Big Data, and AI
By Randy Bean
In this book, author and noted thought leader Randy Bean uses real-world examples to illustrate the growing importance of big data and how it can impact your business. The book touches on everything from the disruptive power of big data to the cultural challenges of becoming data-driven to data ethics, and finally, the future of data-driven AI. It also covers topics like:
- How becoming data-driven forces companies to think differently about their business
- The importance of developing a “data culture” to succeed
- Examples of data-driven leadership
- How to “fail fast and learn faster”
- The importance of having a Chief Data Officer
A must-read for corporate leaders looking to succeed in an increasingly data-driven world.
9. The B Corp Handbook: How You Can Use Business as a Force for Good (2nd Edition)
It is a common belief in the business world that a choice must be made between being profitable or doing good. For years now, B Corps have been challenging that premise by voluntarily taking action to meet the highest standards for social and environmental performance. Over 3.300 companies worldwide have earned their B Corp certification from B Lab, including Patagonia, Ben & Jerry's, Kickstarter and Danone (among others).
Having won the IPPY Award for one of the Best Business Books of 2020, The B Corp Handbook provides insights from over 200 corporate leaders on how to become certified, how to improve your social and environmental performance and how you can create a more inclusive company. The authors make a powerful case showing how using business as a force for good can help you attract the best talent, differentiate yourself in the marketplace and build lasting brand loyalty.
10. The Unicorn Project: A Novel about Developers, Digital Disruption, and Thriving in the Age of Data
By Gene Kim
Following the success of his bestselling book, The Phoenix Project author Gene Kim is back with another highly acclaimed success: The Unicorn Project. The story follows a senior developer and architect as she struggles to get things done in an exceedingly futile environment of endless approvals and paperwork. The plot thickens when she teams up with a “ragtag bunch of misfits” to overthrow the system, bring the joy back to technology work and triumph over digital disruption.
The story brilliantly captures some of the major IT challenges companies face today while presenting potential solutions in a highly entertaining and engaging way.
11. Competing in the Age of AI: Strategy and Leadership When Algorithms and Networks Run the World
Hailed as one of 2020’s top ten technology books by Forbes, “Competing in the Age of AI” does a great job of explaining how reinventing your company around data, analytics and AI can remove some of the traditional barriers to scale and efficiency that restricts companies - keeping them from achieving their true potential.
Authors Marco Iansiti and Karim Lakhani use real examples to explain how companies can get closer to creating their AI-driven processes by:
- Providing a practical framework for rethinking business and operating models
- Describing the opportunities and risks created by AI-driven companies
- Explaining how readers can redefine how they create, capture and deliver value
Great for anyone looking to compete more effectively by leveraging big data, automation and AI.
12. No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention
This New York Times bestseller presents a behind-the-scenes deep dive into the unorthodox culture and practices that made Netflix the company it is today. It goes into the importance of building a culture of freedom and responsibility, and how that can translate into a company’s ability to adapt and innovate in today’s rapidly changing business landscape.
Using Netflix as an example, this book shows readers what it takes to set new standards, value people over process, prioritise innovation over efficiency and bring out the best in employees. A must-read for corporate innovators looking to build an innovative, fast and flexible culture.
13. Hook Point: How to Stand Out in a 3-Second World
By Brendan Kane
In this book, author Brendan Kane explains the ins and outs of grabbing the attention of your target audience. A tall order in today’s highly saturated and competitive markets. It’s a great read for anyone interested in:
- Learning new and effective strategies to generate new opportunities
- Scaling a business using attention-grabbing strategies
- Creating a compelling brand
The key to it all? Hook points! A communication tool that helps you package your message in a concise, attention-grabbing way - increasing your business opportunities on and offline.
14. Corporate Explorer: How Corporations Beat Startups at the Innovation Game
Corporate Explorer explains how companies like Microsoft, Bosch and LexisNexis successfully leverage corporate assets to jumpstart cutting-edge ideas and gain an upper hand over startups that threaten to disrupt them.
The authors provide a proven framework and tools designed to help readers:
- Bring new concepts to life
- Scale new and original business models
- Transform innovation programs into thriving sources of new business
- Attract, retain, and motivate entrepreneurial talent
An excellent resource for innovators looking to boost innovation through corporate venturing.
15. Moving to Outcomes: Why Partnerships are the Future of Marketing
Partnership marketing has been around for a while, but it’s only now reaching its full potential, enabled by new technologies and business models. In this book, bestselling author Bob Glazer provides companies with insights to help them leverage partnership marketing to unlock exponential growth.
He explains how scalable, tech-enhanced partnerships will become a foundational marketing strategy that successful companies can’t afford to overlook. It’s a great resource for companies looking to build effective, outcome-based partnerships that lead to increased ROI.
16. The Cold Start Problem: How to Start and Scale Network Effects
By Andrew Chen
Every year, hundreds of promising new products get launched to the market, but few manage to gain the reach necessary to succeed. In “The Cold Start Problem”, author Andrew Chen addresses the challenges involved, including copycats, competitors and inadequate marketing channels. The author advises teams to consider “the network effect”, whereby a product or service gains additional value as more people use it. Sound intriguing? Then this book is for you! Here are just some of the questions you’ll get answers to:
- What exactly are network effects?
- How do teams create and build them into their products?
- How do products compete in a market where every player has them?
Supported by insights from interviews with companies like LinkedIn, Twitch, Zoom, Dropbox, Tinder, Uber and his own experience, Chen provides readers with a pathway to successfully bring new offerings to the market and achieve viral growth. His practical frameworks are applicable across different products and industries.
17. Beyond the Startup: Sparking Operational Innovations for Global Growth
By Ralf Specht
As most corporate innovators can attest, going from an early-stage startup to a thriving scaleup is no easy task. In this book, author Ralf Specht shares his insights on how to successfully navigate the journey, with a focus on the scale phase.
Supported by his experience building and scaling Spark 44, a joint venture by Jaguar and Landrover, the author provides a myriad of tools, techniques and best practices to help readers turn their young ventures into global industry players.
18. Ready, Set, Growth Hack
By Nader Sabry
We’ve all heard the term growth hacking and understand its potential to kick-start unprecedented growth, cheap and in relatively short periods of time. But what does it take to do it? “Ready, Set Growth Hack” provides readers with step-by-step information on what exactly growth hacking is, why it’s important and what it looks like in practice. Written with practicality in mind, the book contains over 50 examples and 88 tools to help you:
- Identify growth problems
- Exploit growth opportunities
- Scale successful experiments into full-scale hacks
Perfect for beginners who want to learn practical and high-return ways to achieve growth. You’ll be growth hacking before you know it!
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!
Are you a corporate innovator looking to fuel innovation through corporate venturing? We can help you create a detailed strategy that leverages your unique corporate assets to create a pipeline of profitable new ventures.