Amantha Imber, Wiley, $ 29.95
Forget the lightbulb moment. This book makes it clear that innovation is rarely accidental and almost never a simple matter of applied intelligence.
Indeed, Amantha Imber, an Australian psychologist, suggests it is all about business getting the settings right. She offers 14 “keys” for unlocking a culture “where innovation thrives” and argues that it is possible to improve innovation at an individual, team and organisation level.
The emphasis is on business and the advice is pitched to managers, increasingly aware that any company that does not continually innovate will not survive.
Imber starts with a comprehensive audit of your firm’s innovation culture, before outlining elements needed to overcome deficiencies. There’s straightforward advice on whether and how to give staffers more autonomy, and useful chapters on collaboration, supervisor support, and risk-taking. Imber debunks several myths that have dominated management books over the years. They include the usefulness, or not, of so-called “blue-sky thinking”.
Her take? It is a problem. Indeed, “asking people to go blue-sky when it comes to innovation is like playing darts without a dartboard; you simply don’t know where to aim”. She suggests that a better way to go is for leaders to set clear, organisation-wide goals to keep people’s effort focused and effective. It is a common-sense approach developed from years of experience. Changing a culture is not easy, but Imber suggests that if you are serious you need to do more than installing a “foosball table and some beanbags”.