When I was in business school, I did an independent study thesis on the fostering design and innovation within corporations. The process required selecting a department and a professor to sponsor the work. When I first started business school, I thought that my independent study would best be sponsored by either the finance or marketing departments as I felt that lens would give me the holistic view needed to foster innovation. I was wrong. After my first two semesters, I realized that the key to successful innovation would be to understand how people and organizations work - beyond the org. charts. As a result, I did my independent study under the sponsorship of the Organizational Behavior Department. What I learned has proven invaluable as I guide my client organizations through the culture, structure, and power issues to realize the change required to innovate.
When clients ask me if there are any reference materials on innovation, I start with a few articles that I still find invaluable to help me think through intangible organizational issues in a clear, structured way. I suggest they start with these articles to provide a common language and shed light on issues they will likely face. Most of them are fairly old, but I have found them to stand the test of time. Here are the articles I use as a foundation:
Edgar Schein - Organizational Culture - For some reason I can't find a link to this one. If anyone finds it please send it to me. (Excellent for discussing culture in a tangible and concrete way. Allows you to pinpoint cultural contradictions.)
Edgar Schein - Three Cultures of Management: The Key to Organizational Learning Available for purchase. (Great for understanding what motivates people's decision-making, beyond functional discipline.)
Steven Kerr - On the folly of rewarding A, while hoping for B (A great reminder on the true power of reward systems.)
Margaret Wheatley - Searching for Order in an Orderly World Available for purchase. (In undertaking innovation projects, it's a great help to understand the the contrasts in creating order in natural and unnatural environments.)
Maureen Scully and Debra E. Meyerson - Tempered Radicalism and the Politics of Ambivalence and Change Available for purchase. (Any internal person responsible for innovation is put in the position of being what the authors call "Tempered Radicals". It's an excellent primer for the issues they face.)
Deborah Tannen - The Power of Talk: Who Gets Heard and Why - (A good look at the differences in communication styles, and how our biases shape who gets heard, who gets credit, and what gets done. It's focused on gender differences, but the ideas are equally important to the cultural influences we face in an increasingly global workplace.)
Kurt Lewin - He pioneered the "Unfreeze, Move, and Refreeze" model that underlies all successful change management programs. I had a professor once who said that we could look at all the different change models and find that they could all be reduced to Lewin's. He was right.