10 Foundational Books for Driving Sustained Growth

August 28th, 2012

As a recent HBR blog post reminded us, deep, broad reading habits are often a defining characteristic of our greatest leaders and can catalyze insight, innovation, empathy and personal effectiveness. More than ever, we’re in need of new thinking, strategies, language, frameworks, principles & competencies. Here are 10 foundational books that we’ve read recently – each brings relevant examples and new thinking to strategy, planning, competency, culture and business model innovation needed to drive sustained growth:

1) The Strategist by Cynthia A. Montgomery

Most senior leaders haven’t thought about their company’s strategy in a deep way. Cynthia Montgomery’s take on strategy and the leader’s role in shaping it is accessible, compelling and foundational. She challenges leaders to confront the fundamental questions that enable great business strategy like: “Does your company truly matter?” and “Are we doing today what we need to do in order to matter tomorrow?”

2) Repeatability by Chris Zook and James Allen

Chris Zook and James Allen make a strong case for an important strategic paradigm shift for leaders: in today’s turbulent world, planning is no longer the key to survival. The organization that can sense change, and adapt quickly will achieve sustainable growth. In order to sense and adapt, organizations must adopt 3 key strategic design principles – driving clarity and differentiation of the core, eliminate complexity that gets in the way of translating strategy to front-line employees, and creating relevant measures.

3) Escape Velocity by Geoffrey Moore

Most leaders today know they need to keep adapting and continually changing their organizations. Moore’s book does a great job of codifying the problems that create barriers to change and presents frameworks and tools that should be integrated into every organization’s planning process — as means to driving sustainable innovation results.

4) Unstoppable by Chris Zook

Chris Zook paints a vivid picture of the new, increasingly chaotic world we’re living in, including the stark reality that some of the worst odds for success come from defending the status quo of your business. Unstoppable is packed with compelling research, case studies and ideas for evolving your core business model including finding and leveraging hidden assets in your business.

5) The Innovators DNA by Jeffrey Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and Clayton Christensen

This is a must read for entrepreneurial leaders: a practical illustration of  the “how” beneath entrepreneurial leadership. Extremely practical guidance on the behaviors and skills needed for any leader who wants to drive sustained growth across a team or broad organization.

6) Reorganize for Resilience by Ranjay Gulati

Ranjay Gulati’s “Four Levels of Resiliency” and “Five Levers” frameworks provide a practical and insightful roadmap for transforming an organization from an inside-out perspective to an outside-in, customer-focused perspective. Practical insights as well for service-based firms looking to become adaptable in the face of changing client needs.

7) Collaboration by Morten Hansen

Great collaboration enables some of the best companies in the world to produce brilliant results. Morten Hansen does a great job of taking collaboration beyond a buzzword and truly lays out a convincing argument for what it is, what the 4 main barriers to collaboration are and what to do about them.

8) The Other Side of Innovation by Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble

Most companies focus their innovation efforts on coming up with and celebrating new ideas, yet fail consider how to successfully move them forward. The Other Side of Innovation is packed with clear, practical advice for executing innovation initiatives backed by strong research and results.

9) Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur

If you don’t deeply understand your current business model, it’s impossible to change it. The Business Model Canvas is an exceptional tool for dimensionalizing your current businesses model so that you can look for opportunities for reinvention.

10) The Business Model Innovation Factory by Saul Kaplan

Business model innovation is critical to enabling sustained growth and relevancy for any organization. Saul Kaplan teaches us what business model innovation is through relevant, inspiring examples and presents practical ways to enable sustained results.

What have you read lately that has inspired, educated or catalyzed growth for you?  We’d love your recommendations.

 

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