Special Contributor

 Everybody Paddles and The 4 Lenses of Innovation

Everybody Paddles

Charles Archer (Greenleaf Book Group Press, $22.95)

Before you can begin paddling, you have to get people into the boat. Author Charles Archer begins that process by posing two questions: “What separates us?” and “What brings us together?”

We’re all different, but there’s a common thread: No one succeeds alone.

A results-focused captain puts employees in places where their strengths complement those of co-workers. When employees recognize that the crew’s resources are organized and tasks are well-defined, trust in leadership follows.

Sharing the vision and obtaining employee input gets people into the boat, too.

The captain must always operate in three modes — messaging, listening and linking. The job requires transparency. And given that the captain’s tasks include monitoring progress and removing obstacles, communication is essential.

Recognition keeps employees paddling, too. If a captain provides it on a regular basis, the paddlers know the captain values their contributions.

The 4 Lenses of Innovation

Rowan Gibson (John Wiley & Sons, $35)

Innovators are the world’s noticers, and they ask lots of questions. The answers are found when filtered through four lenses:

Challenging orthodoxies: Too often we hear “that’s the way things are done around here.” Only change gets people thinking.

Harnessing trends: Two questions to constantly ask: “What will be the tsunami in our industry?” and “How can we make sure we ride the wave instead of being washed away by it?

Leveraging resources: Gibson redefines the 3 R’s as repurpose, redeploy and recombine, and he recommends developing an elastic view of your company. Its most valuable assets are what it knows and what it owns.

Understanding needs: In these days of big data and analytics, companies ask customers lots of questions. Innovators ask about “unsolved problems, unmet needs and wants.”

Jim Pawlak reviews business books for The Dallas Morning News. Follow him on Twitter at @JimPawlak.