Nine must-have books for corporate creatives

Working for any medium to large sized business as a creative type can be challenging.

Ideas have to be evaluated before they can be explored. There’s red tape covering most of everything. If there’s not enough money to fund an idea, it gets put on the back burner or ignored altogether. And, most importantly, innovation is risky; too risky for immediate action.

There are, however, ways to beat utilize creativity no matter what your role is in the giant corporate machine.

Here are my top picks of the must-have books for any corporate creative.

  • Orbiting the Giant Hairball

    The full title of Gordon MacKenzie’s corporate cult classic is apt: “Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace.” Full of quirky commentary on Gordon’s true (or so he says) experience working for Hallmark, the book elegantly covers everything a creative needs to know about staying sane in the work place in a remarkably funny way.

  • It’s Not How Good You Are, Its How Good You Want to Be

    Paul Arden captions this book as “The World’s Best Selling Book,” and he does so for good reason. Packed with sporadic (but creatively insightful) wisdom, Arden helps shine light on otherwise dark and daunting situations in corporate life. Particularly useful for designers, the advice inside is easily adaptable for other creatives in any industry.

  • Damn Good Advice (For People with Talent!)

    Insights, inspiration, examples, and facts about unleashing your creative potential, all from creative genius George Lois (the original Mad Man of Madison Avenue). Similar to “It’s Not How Good You Are” (the previously mentioned book), this one is broken into bite-sized chunks of insights that are sure to help a creative in nearly any business environment.

  • How to Get Ideas

    With more than 40 years of experience under his belt, Jack Foster shares his insights for staying creative and coming up with ideas in this classic book. Scientific America once described this book as “Quite simply, the best book on creativity I have ever seen.” What more is there to say?

  • A Technique for Producing Ideas

    Coming in at just 38 pages, this book by James Webb Young explores how to generate ground-breaking ideas for whatever your goal may be. It’s a handbook-sized guide to doing exactly what it says on the cover.

  • Rework

    The book from esteemed software agency 37signals is one that rattles traditional corporate knowledge and provokes time-tested ways of conducting business. Targeted more at the entrepreneur: the book is a great case-study for what a creative could do to flip process upside down at any company.

  • The Accidental Creative

    While personally not a favorite book of mine, The Accidental Creative has received rave reviews from almost everyone I’ve worked with. The book takes a look at the processes that author Todd Henry has used to bring innovation into companies, including how to maintain creative rhythm, spotting elements that distract from creativity, and more.

  • Manage Your Day-to-Day

    The second major creativity book from 99u, author Jocelyn Glei tackles the topic of managing your daily work life with insights from some of the top creative minds of our day. From the description: “With wisdom from 20 leading creative minds, Manage Your Day-to-Day will give you a toolkit for tackling the new challenges of a 24/7, always-on workplace.”

  • Do More Great Work

    Undoubtedly a modern classic on how to spend your time working on the work that matters, author Michael Bungay Stanier collaborates with the likes of Seth Godin, Leo Babauta, Chris Guillebeau, Michael Port, and Dave Ulrich to define what it means to spend your time working on the stuff that matters (and less of the stuff that doesn’t). With plenty of insights and tips on how to find the motivation or inspiration to get it done.

Disclaimer: If you click on any of the book links above and purchase any item as a result, I will get a (very small) kickback.