At Outthinker Networks, we are fortunate to discover the latest publications in strategy and innovation through our community of strategists, intrapreneurs, and thought leaders. We continually review newly released books for our podcast episodes, research, and strategy and innovation roundtables. We also speak with heads of strategy and those leading transformation in large enterprises about the books that are at the top of their lists.
From these inputs, we’ve collected a list of our top strategy and innovation book recommendations for you this summer. It is by no means a comprehensive list—we are exposed to an impressive array of talented authors and wish we could feature every book we’ve read. Yet as we step fully into summer and the days linger, we hope this list will help you dive into deep strategic thinking and elevate your understanding of the ever-evolving business landscape.
Grab your beach chair and a refreshing beverage, and join us in unlocking new levels of thinking through these game-changing reads. Let’s embrace the summer of 2023 as a season of knowledge, growth, and strategic revelation.
All in on AI: How Smart Companies Win Big with Artificial Intelligence, Thomas Davenport and Nitin Mittal
Artificial intelligence (AI) has officially become a mainstay in the business world and has shown no signs of slowing down this year, with the release of new generative AI technologies like ChatGPT. Davenport and Mittal look at AI from the viewpoint of established organizations and explore how the companies that choose to go “all in on AI” are experiencing radical transformation and outperforming their industries in terms of business models, decision making, and customer experience. Check out this title and Davenport’s Outthinkers Podcast interview if you’re looking to use AI to make a competitive impact.
Power and Prediction: The Disruptive Economics of Artificial Intelligence, Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans, and Avi Goldfarb
The age of AI is here—businesses are replacing existing processes with automated versions, customer service departments are employing chatbots, content production is expanded, and appointment scheduling has been made easier—but we are only at the beginning. Agrawal, Gans, and Goldfarb push past these examples to explore the broader, systemic changes that AI will affect. Read this to understand how AI’s prediction powers can strengthen your business strategy.
INNOVATION & INTRAPRENEURSHIP
Beyond Disruption: Innovate and Achieve Growth without Displacing Industries, Companies, or Jobs, W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne
When we think of examples of great innovations, disruption gets most of the glory. But in this work, Kim and Mauborgne flip the familiar script and propose a new approach to innovation and growth—one that avoids the destructive forces of innovation, which often include job cuts and deaths of industries and companies. Their research highlights another successful strategy to innovate and grow: nondisruptive creation. Beyond Disruption is an inspirational and thoughtful guide for all innovators.
From one of the world’s foremost thought leaders in entrepreneurship, Break the Rules! examines what sets entrepreneurs apart from other businesspeople. He provides a roadmap for how to adopt and master six counter-conventional mindsets to challenge assumptions, overcome obstacles, and mitigate risk. This book is a useful tool for anyone in business looking to cultivate a more entrepreneurial mindset in themselves or their teams. Mullins also joined the Outthinkers Podcast, where he shared a brief overview of the six mindsets of entrepreneurs.
Yates is a seasoned CEO who refuses to believe the dogma that legacy companies are stagnant and slow. Instead, she insists that these large enterprises have untapped advantages to launch transformative projects that startups can only dream of. She offers a framework on how to turn on your company’s corporate ventures growth machine and explains why incumbent organizations should be the ones to tackle the biggest societal challenges we face.
STRATEGY & TRANSFORMATION
The Ecosystem Economy: How to Lead in the New Age of Sectors without Borders, Venkat Atluri and Miklos Dietz
We’ve been talking about the erosion of industry boundaries for years, but Atluri and Dietz offer a compelling and practical explanation of the economic and technological forces driving us into a new era of ecosystem-based competition and why it’s happening now. It’s one of the strongest books we’ve seen on this shift that strategists have been tracking for a decade. This is a must-read if you want to avoid sector myopia and stay ahead of cross-industry competition. (Bonus: Check out this ~20-minute podcast episode where Dietz discusses the evolution of our current 88-sector economy into a smaller subset of ecosystems.)
Every so often, a thought leader appears who turns what we know upside down and causes us to keep returning to our notes from their conversations. Subramaniam offers a new paradigm for competitive strategy anchored in data and digital ecosystems. While respecting the long-prevailing concepts of competitive strategy, such as Porter’s Five Forces, Subramaniam explains why they are increasingly ineffective in a digital world as he guides legacy organizations to harness their existing assets and strengths to win the digital game.
Quit: The Power of Knowing When to Walk Away, Annie Duke
Michael Porter told us the essence of strategy is choosing what not to do. The successful business leaders, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and internal innovators of the world know that discovering an impactful idea, innovation, or business model takes exploring a portfolio of ideas, running small experiments, failing fast, and quickly abandoning the ones that don’t work to focus on those that do. This means knowing when to quit, and professional poker player Duke is here to help us master the skill of quitting. This read will free up your time and money from being wasted on ideas that need to be abandoned, so you can devote your resources to your best options.
PEOPLE & LEADERSHIP
Head & Heart: The Art of Modern Leadership, Kirstin Ferguson
Ferguson is one of Australia’s most prominent leadership experts. Her latest work shares her top insights as an executive coach, company director, and globally recognized leader on what makes not only an effective leader, but a well-rounded one that will have a big impact on both strategy and culture. Head & Heart has been described as “an indispensable companion for every leader.”
The Microstress Effect: How Little Things Pile Up and Create Big Problems—and What to Do About It, Rob Cross and Karen Dillon
Every day, our interactions with other people, even those we care most about, trigger an avalanche of mini stresses, which Cross and Dillon call microstressors. Due to our increasing number of interactions, brought on by technology and remote and hybrid work environments, these small stresses can avalanche to the point where it impacts our personal well-being. Cross and Dillon explain why the microstress effect is happening and what you can do to stop it.