We Are Innovation because we read

As a learning and inspiring activity, reading is encouraged by entrepreneurs, leaders and business experts to enable individuals to develop new approaches and ideas. Not only does it offer the space and stand back to integrate knowledge, it also offers the space to think and feel the emotions we sometimes miss in daily routine to apprehend situations with a fresher view. Because reading connects readers and writers’ experiences into a constant dialog defining leadership, innovation and change, developing thoughts through different angles and varying voices, words, is a key requirement to continuously nurture creativity and willingness to solve growingly intricate issues.

Reading for thought leadership

Books help us find additional inspiration. We can choose “silent” mentors whom we read to develop new ideas by understanding their own views and experience. James O’Toole from Strategy & Business has gathered a list of inspiring books written by business leaders. As he writes, “According to the late Warren Bennis, leaders are molded in “the crucible of experience.” Presumably, then, those who have emerged successfully from that fiery process (metaphorically speaking) are the best equipped to offer advice on how to lead. ”

By disconnecting our thoughts from daily projects, reading allows space for new ideas. This is what John Rampton explains in his article for INC. According to the writer, “Finding the time to sit back and enjoy a book is almost impossible for entrepreneurs. But it’s critical that you find the time to read. After all, reading can boost our brainpower, help us relax, and make us more empathetic. I personally find that when I read I am much more aware of good ideas, am able to set more goals, and become a better leader to those around me.”

Expert writers in fact offer us some stand back. In the obviousness of specific situations, we sometimes need additional thinking to consider facts under a different angle. One of the book that inspires Roger Martin has taught him to use reading to vary viewpoints. As he explains to Theodore Kinni in an article for  Strategy & Business, “When I first read Chris’s work on how individuals in organizations act in ways that produce the opposite of what they wish, yet refuse to change their behaviors, I didn’t buy the idea of organizational defensive routines at all. How could people be so impervious to learning? Then I met the man who became my most important academic mentor, and he helped me understand that we all act according to a core theory that causes us to advocate our point of view, not inquire into the views of others, and shirk responsibility for the miscommunication that ensues“.

Reading for expertise

Of course, experts also share their own expertise through books, connecting experiences with reader’s operational choices. The pragmatism of business books helps shape new ideas and organizations. One example of this is Innovation Architecture Vol 1. The book presentation outlines how “People who lead and participate in collaborative innovation within their organizations will appreciate the pragmatic way in which Doug approaches the subject. His years of field work grounds his perspective in reality. At the same time, Doug continuously draws the reader’s attention to the transformative potential for leadership that the practice of collaborative innovation offers.”

Other operational reading can benefit to readers and practitioners in specific areas such as Business Intelligence. A list of reference blogs for this topic has been shared by Maptive. As explained in the article, “If you want to succeed in business today, you have to take the time to collect, analyze, interpret, and act on data. You have to invest in business intelligence.”

Sometimes, books come with a inspiration for change, ringing alerts to bring readers into writers’ own reality, leading them to take action. In his blog Libre Cours, Bernard Ramanantsoa writes: “In my latest book “Learn and dare“, I worry about the torpid indifference of our country with regards to higher education degradation. I nevertheless end up by sharing a light of optimism, hoping to identify here and there “weak signal” of a collective consciousness seeing this “plunge” and leading to awakening our political leaders.”

Reading for change

In the end, reading gives us time to think. As Fred Schilmover explains for  Entrepreneur,  “Like most entrepreneurs, I spend a staggering percentage of my life on airplanes. While I’ll never enjoy the redeye from San Francisco to Boston, I do appreciate that being stuck on a plane allows me uninterrupted time to read. Reading lets me shift from my usual mode of running my business to thinking about my business — and that slight change in perspective can be enormously helpful.”

Books also provide us with us for emotions. Because words enable to trigger thinking patterns closely linked to our feelings and mindsets, experts are in a position to mentor and support readers rather than simply communicate knowledge. As Dixie Gillapsie explains for Entrepreneur, “These true stories pretty much rip apart our notions about positive thinking, emotional support and the setting of goals and expectations. One idea in particular that has rearranged my thinking about interpersonal dynamics and social structure in business or any other aspect of life is Feldman and Kravetz’s explanation for why people choose to blame the victims in any misfortune. That understanding alone has been worth every cent and second I’ve spent on this book.”

Consequently, reading enables us to change. On a pragmatic level, books nurtures our writing skills to develop accurate messages for an audience. As outlined by Paul Jun for Entrepreneur, “Organizations that value providing excellent customer support depend on good writing skills to create those bonds with customers. Solving problems, calming fears, and passing along notes or updates to the team—all of this connection happens through effective writing.”

Eventually, reading enables us to improve. On a leadership level, learning from reading is identified as a key requirement to success. This is a view shared by Kimanzi Constable for Entrepreneur. As he writes, “If you study any successful entrepreneur, you’ll see one of the keys to their success is that they educate themselves through books. You can get books these days for as little as .99 cents. Many are even free through Amazon’s KDP Select program. There’s no reason not to have a Kindle full of books that can educate you and teach you strategies to grow your business. ”

Beautiful Diversity - Part 1: Diversity as a success story
Beautiful Diversity – Part 1: Diversity as a success story

For all of these reasons, writing and reading can be considered as on going dialog between knowledge and emotions, spreading a constantly changing message around specific topics or philosophies. By doing so, reading also enables to understand the value of having different viewpoints, the value of misunderstandings. As explained in the e-book “Diversity as a success story“, misunderstandings enable to:

  • Highlight differences: identify in author’s viewpoints, historical context and experience the reasons behind his reasonings
  • Analyze differences: question differences so as to build a constructive explanation leading to differing views
  • Learn from differences: consider situations with a varying angle by listening to others’ emotions through reading their words
  • Build on differences: outline the positive additions of combing dissimilar views to generate new solutions
  • Set new common ground: define new attitudes and visions from newly integrated knowledge
  • Cultivate differences: keep meeting, reading and analyzing different views as a virtuous knowledge cycle for growth

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