5 Brilliant reads that can spark your creativity over the Christmas Break

As the year comes to a close with the new decade fast-approaching, now is the perfect time to plan your summer reading list. To make it easy for you, the team at The Strategy Group has collated their top five innovation reads for 2019, covering topics from culture change, management principles, creativity, and storytelling. So whether you’re jet-setting or lounging by the pool over the Christmas break or even if you’re looking for that last minute Christmas gift, be sure to add these books to your summer reading list. 

Written by US military general Stanley McChrystal, Team of Teams is a book that portrays themes of decentralisation and the need for organisations to restructure and take on new approaches and ways of working in a fast-paced world. McChrystal goes in depth about his time working in the US military in 2004 where he noticed the US military’s hierarchical structure and traditional tactics failing against a decentralised and fast-moving Al Qaeda. The now retired McChrystal explains the cultural shift he initiated within the military in order to combat Al Qaeda including lower-level decision-making, changes of spaces and changing of meetings. The key themes present in McChrystal’s book are easily applicable to the likes of the retail and banking industries and the dire need for organisations to restructure themselves to actively compete with small, faster-moving organisations.

If you’re a Pixar and story-telling lover like most of us, then this book is for you. Written by Pixar’s co-founder and president, Ed Catmull, this book delves into the necessity and power of storytelling and creativity. Catmull emphasises multiple underlying principles throughout the book, however one of his most notable is that creativity is necessary for reasons beyond fostering a positive work culture. Catmull emphasises that creativity must be encouraged for the overall betterment of humanity, enabling individuals to enjoy the work they do. Catmull proceeds to ask and answer the question of “how do we get out of the way of people doing their job?”, a vital question that many managers and organisations need to ask themselves in order to reduce micro-management and unhealthy work relationships.

This book is a must-read for anyone that has read and loved Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio. An Everyone Culture can be classified as a more in-depth view on how to create a learning organisation with a strong focus on individual improvement equating to organisational improvement. Throughout the book, the authors ask “what if a company did everything in its power to create a culture in which everyone could overcome their own internal barriers to change and use errors and vulnerabilities as prime opportunities for personal and company growth?”. While this book is more of an academic case study, it is a vital read, especially for managers, as the authors’ ideas and concepts provide deep insight into how to create a holistic approach to management while creating a culture with humans at the centre.

Creative Confidence is a classic innovation must-read for everyone, no matter what field you are in. This book explains how creativity and innovation are practices that are not simply for ‘creative types’ but rather for all individuals, Tom and David Kelley explaining that each and every one of us is creative. The novel is an interesting read that draws upon stories from the authors’ work at IDEO and the Stanford d.school, Tom and David Kelley being two of the leading experts in innovation, design and creativity. Throughout the book, the authors identify key principles and strategies that allow one to apply innovation to certain approaches and problem-solving scenarios. While it is a highly popular book, it is one that has the power to assist individuals in being more productive and successful in their lives and careers.

This book possesses similar themes to Creative Confidence and Everyday Culture: Finding and Making Meaning in a Changing World by David Trend, however, Scott’s novel has a specific focus on management transparency while providing detailed management tools. Scott explores key ideas surrounding how individuals can be true to oneself in their workplace and how an open and honest workplace culture can foster individuality and psychological safety. The author provides practical tools for managers to utilise in order to create openness within their workplace such as skip-level meetings in which an employee could provide feedback on the performance of their mid-level manager to a higher senior manager. Scott provides managers with practical alternative approaches that can be actioned immediately with visible results rather than expecting to shift an entire organisational culture at once.

All of the above books are a great read that are sure to provide value to your approach all while sparking new ideas and opinions.


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