Some innovation reading
I’ve read a few books I haven’t quite got round to blogging about over the past few months so thought I’d bring them together here as I read them all to help with various projects at work. Firstly, the classic in understanding innovation and economic cycles Tehnological Revolutions and Financial Capital: The Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages by Carlota Perez. Her argument is based on Schumpeter’s waves of innovation (which I read many years ago as part of my undergraduate Economic Geography course) and looks at how the rise of new technologies leads to bubbles and crashes in the economy. It’s fascinating stuff.
Secondly, Thinking in systems by Donella Meadows. I read this after we did some work at Nesta on systems innovation and it was really refreshing to see a very practical walking through of examples with lots of very engaging diagrams. We’ve been trying to create lots of systems maps as ways of understanding how innovation can change systems for the better, so this was a very useful book.
Thirdly and finally is Better: a surgeon’s notes on performance by Atul Gawande. This is a great book. I read it when we were developing our report on diffusion of innovation within health and it is a really well written and engaging take on why the diffusion of innovation is critical when it comes to saving lives. When I went on a Nile cruise a few weeks ago I took the picture above of the surgical instruments used by the ancient Egyptians over two thousand years ago at Kom Ombo temple. Hopefully we’re a bit better now at diffusing medical innovations quickly around the world than was possible back then, when much of the amazingly advanced knowledge they had was lost and had to be reinvented many hundreds of years later.