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3 book tips on innovation and how to read them

Pieter De Vocht

Innovation & Service Designer
Before we advise you on how to spend that book store coupon you still have lying around, let’s focus on something far more important first. Let’s focus on how to get the most out of what your read.

How to read books to better remember them

First quick tip: To better remember the content of a book, you’ll find it’s easier to pick a book on a subject that you think is fascinating. That said, here are 5 techniques that you can use to better recall what you’ve read.  

1 Relevance reading

Read what’s relevant to your life at this moment to better remember the content of a book. Want to start building your own campervan? Read a book on vanlife. Your next client will be a fintech scale-up? Read a book on fintech.

2 No notifications, only notes

Leave your phone elsewhere. Don’t get distracted and fully focus on what you’re reading. The only thing you should be doing is reading. And taking notes. Scribbling insights while you read helps you to better remember the content because you’re feeding your brain with new cues for recalling information. Pro tip? Write your notes in blue ink. Studies have shown that writing in this color is best for remembering your notes.

3 Linking information

Your notes can make you think of other things you know. Work on connecting what you’ve just learned to what you already knew. Making these new connections between new and old knowledge is key if you want to better remember your new learnings.

4 Recap it

Finished your book? Take a moment to recap it by describing the most important insights on just one or two pages. In a few months or years when you look back at that summary, you’ll remember the entire book by just looking at that brief recap.

5 Use it

Your recently added knowledge will be better embedded in your long-term memory if you use what you’ve learned. What insights can you directly apply to your life? Apply them. Don’t see any insights that you can directly apply? Make sure to at least share your knowledge with someone who might directly benefit from your knowledge. By explaining, you make sure that you yourself understood the content and that you repeat it once more to deeper embed it in your memory.
Good books can be read just once. But if you just finished a great book, you may want to put it on your ‘must read again-shelf’. You’ll pick up that book in a few years, when you’ll have developed another mindset. Your reread will not just be a rehearsal of valuable knowledge; It will be an extra win because you can read it with a new mindset. This hands you new angles and insights you did not discover during your first read.
There are about 20 books sitting on my ‘must read again-shelf’ right now. Some are novels, some are on psychology. But you wanted 3 on innovation. Here they are:
1 Change by design – Tim Brown
In this book, the CEO of IDEO writes about design thinking. This was 2009, when design thinking was a fancy term everyone started using without truly adopting it. Today, the hype has passed and more companies finally start to question how they’re structured and how they operate. That’s why I find this classic book on design thinking is even more relevant today than back in ’09.
2 Ten types of innovation – Larry Keeley
This one I pick up at least once a year to remind myself about the many innovation types (product performance, profit model, brand,..) that you must consider when innovating. Often, the biggest value opportunity does not lie in improving the product but in branding, or another revenue model. My background in product design naturally steers me to think of product improvements before all other types of innovation. Picking up this book from time to time helps me to always approach an innovation project with an open mind, instead of the mind of a product designer.
3 The ten fases of innovation – Tom Kelley
This is a great book to link with both of the previous books in this list because they stress the importance of innovating not only the product, but the entire company. This book by Kelley focuses on innovating your company and its culture by matching the 10 types of people/roles you need in your organization. At Achilles, we’re growing fast. We’re shifting roles and we’re welcoming new Achillians all the time. This book helps me to identify what team roles are still lacking in an innovation project and what colleagues could help us out.
These are only some of the books that are relevant to me. That’s why I have them on my special book shelf. But I feel they apply to a wide audience, including people who are not designers. Hopefully you’ll learn something valuable from one of these books.
But what’s more important is that you read your books with purpose. If you read 5 books a week, you may feel proud, but you will learn close to nothing. Then you better read 5 books a year, and read them well.

Pieter De Vocht

Innovation & Service Designer

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