September 20, 2016

What I’m Reading – Innovation, Design, Ecommerce and Self-Awareness

I’m a big advocate for taking the time to read and staying updated on the many changes in digital. I’ve decided that once a month or so I’ll pull together a few of my favourite books, articles or other pieces of content to share on our blog (plus this might keep me accountable to continue reading!).

theartofinnovationArt of Innovation

The Art of Innovation is a landmark book by one of the founders of Ideo, Tom Kelley. Of particular interest to me is Chapter 3, ‘Innovation begins with an eye’, which is about problem recognition and definition.

Key Takeaways

  • Try to go beyond asking your customers or users of your product/service what they think – nothing will beat the insights that come from actually observing it being used or interacted with
  • Instead of trying to fight and change natural human behaviour, find a way to adapt your product or service to complement the behaviour
  • Accept that not everyone is like you – not everyone has the same physical or intellectual abilities and not everyone has the same intuition or experiences

A big part of my day is spent trying to solve a wide range of problems and it’s a skill I’m constantly trying to develop. I really like this book for its easy to follow advice and the number of examples from Ideo’s own archives (though some are getting pretty dated now).

One of my favourite quotes is by Charles Kettering who said that

“A problem well stated is a problem half solved.”

Some of the tips from The Art of Innovation will definitely help get part of the way there.

hugeblogincHuge Inc blog

I’m a big (huge, even) fan of the Huge Inc blog. As an agency they boast an impressive roster of clients and some inspiring expertise. This article is about the intersection of a creative/digital agency and business strategy.

Huge Inc – Why Business Strategy and Design Should Work in Tandem

Key Takeaways

  • Don’t assume the cause of problems your business may be having. Better yet, don’t assume you know the solutions to any problems without thoroughly investigating and defining the problem first
  • A good website (or indeed a good marketing campaign) can’t be designed in isolation from business strategy.
  • As digital marketers we have access to a massive amount of data and spend our days investigating this information. Don’t be afraid to use your expertise to help your clients better their entire business

When we start talking to prospective clients we always refer to our relationship as a ‘partnership’. We have access to mounds of useful data and can often spot trends that affect our client’s business as a whole. So we work closely with them, even when it means having some really, really tough conversations. This Huge Inc article includes a stark example of how well such a partnership can work.


I generally try to keep abreast of updates in ecommerce, and am very interested in movements among the big ecommerce players. This article on Econsultancy serves as a top level summary of 6 large retailers in the US and UK. Don’t expect a whole lot of detail here, but at the very least the explanation of what Walgreens is doing with their omnichannel strategy is quite interesting.

Econsultancy – Six Iconic Retailers and their Digital Transformation Journeys

Key Takeaways

  • There are very few doing everything perfectly (or even well), but everyone is doing something we can learn from. For example, Walgreens has focused on adding new revenue streams through innovation, John Lewis hasn’t forgotten about the importance of branding campaigns and all have a strong focus on customer experience.
  • Though many of the traditional juggernauts offline are catching up, the big pureplay online brands still appear to be miles ahead when it comes to ecommerce.

Econsultancy is definitely worth subscribing to for anyone interested in ecommerce.

sethgodinSeth Godin’s blog

Most of what Seth Godin writes is a pretty solid read and his blog is no exception. Short and sharp but always worthwhile, this post especially resonated with me.

Seth Godin – Justifiable

Key Takeaways

  • While sometimes tough, try to have the self-awareness to recognise your bad mood and adjust your behaviour accordingly – don’t simply try to justify it

Extending this lesson, the article also highlights the importance of being aware of how your mood is affecting your behaviour and how your behaviour is affecting those around you. It’s your responsibility to have this kind self-awareness, especially if you’re in any sort of leadership position.

Bonus tip: Feedly is one of my favourite tools I’ve started using in the last year because it lets me consolidate and sort all of the resources I read online. I highly recommend checking it out.

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