Summer reading: 9 books that capture the spirit of disruption

As you go off the grid for some light reading, here are some titles to keep your innovative juices flowing.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

Summertime means taking time to go off the grid somewhat and catch up on reading. Many people like to read fiction and fantasy. But you, as SmartPlanet readers, are a different breed, always in search of better, more intelligent, ways to run the world and keep the fires of innovation burning -- even while on vacation.

With that in mind, here are nine titles to help you ponder new ways to make the planet smarter. Many are new or relatively new releases that capture the current Zeitgeist around digital business, but a couple of timeless classics are thrown in as well:

Keeping Up With the Quants: Your Guide to Understanding and Using Analytics, by Thomas Davenport and Jinho Kim (2013). Practical advice on how to find the right data for your organization and understand data analytics and quantitative thinking. Memorable quote: "We'll need over 1.5 million more data-savvy managers to take advantage of all the data our society generates. We hope you will become one of them."

Creative Intelligence: Harnessing the Power to Create, Connect, and Inspire, by Bruce Nussbaum (2013). Creative intelligence, or CQ, is the new form of literacy that organizations need to innovate in today's economy. Memorable quote: "Creativity can be common and routine, not rare and occasional. It is something that can be evaluated by assessing performance at specific tasks or reviewing a body of work, not measured by standardized tests."

Data Points: Visualization That Means Something, by Nathan Yau (2013). An examination of the process involved in turning data into meaningful, graphic representations. Memorable quote: "Data is more than numbers; and to visualize it, you must know what it represents. Data represents real life. It's a snapshot of the world in the same way that a photograph captures a small moment in time."

Business Innovation in the Cloud: Executing on Innovation with Cloud Computing, by Jim Stikeleather and Peter Fingar (2012). This book explores the business opportunities cloud computing is rapidly creating, and how organizations can identify those opportunities. Memorable quote: "Shift happens."

What's the Future of Business? Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences, by Brian Solis (2013). This book details the new movement many businesses are undertaking to transform to digital enterprises that are more attuned to their customers' experiences. Memorable quote: The future of business isn't tied to the permeation of Facebook, Twitter, iPhones and Droids, pins on Pinterest, tablets or real-time geolocation check-ins. The future of business comes down to relevance and the ability to understand how technology affects decision making and behavior to the point where the recognition of new opportunities and the ability to strategically adapt to them becomes a competitive advantage."

#Hooked: The Pitfalls of Media, Technology and Social Networking, Gregory L. Jantz, Ph.D with Ann McMurray (2012). Words of caution about the potential negatives released through technology, from distractions to loss of privacy. Memorable quote: "Often the people we disconnect from are the ones closest to us because they're the ones who know the truth; they're the first responders who point out the disparity between the real us and the virtual us."

The New Technology Elite: How Great Companies Optimize Both Technology Consumption and Production, Vinne Mirchandani (2012). The new "technology elite" that is taking the lead in today's economy aren't geeks, but tech-savvy leaders who understand the disruptive effects of technology in terms of product design, physical structures, and ecosystems. Memorable quote: "The ambidextrous technologist who is good at both technology production and efficient at technology consumption is an elusive species. We need them and we need many of the crossover types who bring experiences form both technology vendor and user organizations."

Re-imagine! Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age, Tom Peters (2003). It's been in print for a decade now, but its message is still powerful. Management evangelist Tom Peters says it's high time to tear down the old silos and calcified modes of thinking that hold organizations back, and promote a new breed of employee, new breed of enterprise, and new social contract. Only self-destruction will pave the way to re-invention, Peters says. Memorable quote: "In 2002, I tried (without success) to induce Stanford University to retract my MBA."

The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail, by Clayton Christensen (1997). In this seminal work, Christensen describes how even the most successful companies get locked into a business model, and are incapable of competing -- or even unwilling to compete -- against upstarts that start off taking business from low-end or underserved parts of their markets. Memorable quote: "If you want to understand why something happens in business, study the disk drive industry. Those companies are the closest things to fruit flies that the business world will ever see."

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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