I know I am a little late to the game, but I just finished the very enjoyable The Innovator's Solution by Clayton Christensen and Michael Raynor. The book is a successor to Christensen's well-regarded The Innovator's Dilemma, where he laid out the basic problem with innovation and continued growth. In Solution he lays out some meaningful theories that suggest how to create successful and repeatable innovation as part of a business strategy, rather than doing it as "luck." I found myself underlining and writing marginal notes in the book, as the ideas struck home for me.
I particularly liked the no-nonsense tone of the book. Throughout, the authors discuss the need for predictive theory when making decisions about innovation (and anything else for that matter). And in many cases, the authors also tell us that conventional business wisdom is using the wrong theories about the world. Success in innovation doesn't come because you had VC funding, or the CEO went to Top Notch University, or you ask your employees to spend 15% of their on new ideas, or you are based in Misty Mountain Top, etc. As the authors state, these characteristics don't predict success - people have focused on the obvious characteristics without understanding what is happening within those businesses to create new products and services. The important thing in these theories is to see how the circumstances of successful growth compare to the circumstances of unsuccessful growth. For example, under what circumstances do spin-offs work?
And, given my latest bent, I read a lot of connection with the Theory of Constraints, particularly in the build-up to their theories on what circumstances make sense for various categories of innovations. I think there is a connection with the theories in that TOC shows the general direction of a solution for common problems in the operation of businesses. To clarify, TOC doesn't apply directly to innovation - it applies once there is a market for the new product or service.
Christensen's latest book, Seeing What's Next: Using the Theories of Innovation to Predict Industry Change applies the theories he has developed in Solution to look into the future for industry. And, from the reviews, it sounds as if he expands on some of the theories in Solution.
Many others, of course, have written their thoughts on the topic. Just do a search at your favorite location for the book. Someone else in my regular blog reading habit recently mentioned they were reading this, but I can't find the reference they made to the book. Nonetheless, I will watch for their thoughts in my reader.
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