The dog days of the summer are upon us. For big companies here in Canada, that often means vacation time – time to get away to the cottage and unwind, go on road trips across this great country, and be with family and friends.

As a result, major decisions often get put off until September so that people aren’t left out of the loop on strategic moves.

What does this mean for people trying to advance innovation agendas within organizations?  How do you keep your company’s innovation council informed of activities when many are less engaged in the summer? How do you build the case for a comprehensive innovation strategy when no one is listening?

The key is to keep moving. Summer can be a great time to experiment. Work often slows down and there may be a bit more flexibility in your schedule – not as may deadlines to hit or projects to finish.

This is a great time to catch up on your reading with some key innovation books, experiment with messages to other teams, build your own minimum viable product (MVP), or try a new way to execute on a repeated task to see if there are more effective ways to deliver results.

For those with the time and interest, there are some great books to put your nose into over the next couple months:

  • The Lean Startup, a foundational book by Eric Ries that explains how the Build-Test-Learn methodology can be applied across all organizations to improve the speed of delivery and the chances of success through regular customer interactions.
  • Ten Types of Innovation, a great book by Larry Keeley, Helen Walters, Ryan Pikkel and Brian Quinn that emphasizes that there isn’t one type of innovation (there are 10), and the secret is how organizations can use the right ones to advance their innovation agendas.
  • Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation, by Idris Mootee, founder of Idea Couture. This book highlights how design thinking can be applied to business processes across organizations to enhance innovation activities.
  • The Leader’s Guide, by Eric Ries (again). He funded this book through Kickstarter and it looks at how to apply startup principles to large organizations. By creating a common language, connecting to the customer and focusing on the MVP, big companies can scale many of the same concepts from the Lean Startup.
  • The Innovator’s Dilemma, published almost 20 years ago, in which Harvard professor Clayton Christensen revolutionized the concept of disruptive innovation. Over the years, it has been debated and analyzed countless times, but in the narrow scope that Christensen intended his theory to be applied, it rings as true today as it did in 1997. A classic that should be re-read every few years.
  • Business Model Generation, by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur, which expanded our thinking around what makes a successful product. It goes beyond having customers and looks at exploring channels, stakeholders, business models, etc that all play a pivotal role in building sustainable businesses…and it’s an easy book to read.

Of course, there are many more innovation books to explore, so if you have recommendations for your fellow Nimble Hippo followers, please let us know. The Nimble Hippo never stops learning and summer is a great time to expand that knowledge in a hammock, on a dock, or just under a tree with a great book. Until next week…

The Nimble Hippo looks at how large organizations can build innovative cultures and disruptive strategies by taking the best lessons from startup ecosystems and applying them in a big-company context.

About The Author

Craig Haney
Director, Corporate Innovation, Communitech

Craig is leading the charge for corporate innovation in Canada. His work with Canadian Tire Innovations helped launch the LeanLab project at Communitech, helping large, non-tech companies become faster and more innovative by engaging with startups. As Director of Corporate Innovation at Communitech, his focus is to grow the ecosystem by exposing small companies to big problems they can solve for some of Canada’s largest players. Craig has an undergraduate degree from the University of Western Ontario and a Masters of Business, Entrepreneurship, and Technonogy (MBET) from the University of Waterloo.