The 3 Best Books I've Read in 2016

2016 was a year of many distractions. In our ever-changing digital world, coupled with busy schedules, it becomes more tempting to consume pieces of knowledge through quicker forms of content. Video on Youtube. 140 character bits on Twitter. And while I have taken a handful of courses via Coursera this year (Design Thinking for Innovation, Business Analytics and Content Strategy for Professionals), books have remained my number one preference for knowledge. There’s something enchanting about reading a book and going through it that makes reading that much more immersive.

In late 2013, I uncovered a passion for business design and innovation. Since then, it’s been one book after the other, diving deeper and gaining more knowledge in these fields. During 2016, I got into corporate innovation. Books like Innovation to The Core and Making Innovation Work are great primers for innovation in the enterprise. I also covered topics on entrepreneurship, business design, design thinking, service design and creativity.

That being said, the following are my top 3 books from 2016.

Content Inc by Joe Pulizzi

This book is the reason this article exists. It’s the reason this website exists. And it’s the reason that I have completely switched my mindset on how to pursue thought leadership and business creation. Thought leaders of yesterday had one path: to accumulate knowledge through academic studies and attaining certifications. In our digital world today, a new form has emerged. That of content creation.

Let’s say you’ve unfortunately suffered an ankle injury and wanted to find a personal trainer to work with. In the old days, you had to look at the trainer’s credentials: a degree in sports medicine perhaps? Certification from a sports rehabilitation center? Today though, the first thing you would do is Google that trainer. The first link might be that trainer’s Youtube channel, where he has 150+ videos of corrective exercises, transformation videos and more. That Youtube channel links you to his personal website, where you can find contact information. Better yet, perhaps an online form on the same website where you can book your first consultation session.

You see what happened there?

That personal trainer was able to land you as a new client because he has invested time in pushing content in the form of videos, tutorials, how-tos, and articles, which in effect made him reputable. Compare this personal trainer to one that just has a website with a picture of his degree and contact information. Which personal trainer are you more likely to hire? That is the power of content.

The approach to business taught all over the world is to create a product and then spend a bunch of money to market and sell it. Joe outlines a radically new way to succeed in business: Develop your audience first by creating content that draws people in and then watch your business sell themselves!” – David Meerman Scott, bestselling author of ten books

Side note: Have you really suffered an injury lately and are looking for content on corrective exercises? Check out The Prehab Guys.

Ten Types of Innovation by Larry Keeley

Larry Keeley is the president and cofounder of Doblin Inc, an innovation and strategy firm that I have deep respect for. Why? Because of this remarkable piece of content called Ten Types of Innovation. I have read about many frameworks for innovation, but the Ten Types is by far my favorite. The basic premise of this book is that innovation can be one of ten types, or a combination of multiple. The ten types, as outlined by the book are the following:

Doblin's Ten Types

The book takes this a step further several steps further. It showcases how this ten types framework can be used to assess a current market and figure out how you can enter it by competing on aspects others have deliberately neglected. Also, it can be used as a way to find possible offering tilts for your own business. It is a remarkable strategy tool, and one that can be used to intentionally design more robust businesses based on multiple innovation types. (Safe to say that this will have its own post in the near future. Stay tuned!).

Sprint by Jake Knapp

Sprint offers a transformative formula for testing ideas that works whether you’re at a startup or a large organization. Within five days, you’ll move from idea to prototype to decision, saving you and your team countless hours and countless dollars. A must read for entrepreneurs of all stripes” – Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup

This book comes to you straight from three partners at Google Ventures. It outlines a fresh and intense five-day process to go from customer research to prototype. The process, as outlined in the book, is called a Design Sprint. What’s interesting about this book is the flexibility of the process. You can apply it to solve any challenge. You can apply it if you’re a startup or venturing in an enterprise.

The book is broken down into five sections, by days:

Monday: Map out the problem and pick an important place to focus.

Tuesday: Sketch competing solutions on paper.

Wednesday: Turn ideas into testable hypothesis.

Thursday: Design a high-fidelity prototype.

Friday: Test the prototype with real live humans.

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