Five recently published books explain how manufacturers can harness the power of innovation to compete successfully in today's flat world.

Want to learn more about the role that innovation plays in successful product development? Consider picking up one of these recent books:

Innovation Nation: How America Is Losing Its Innovation Edge, Why It Matters, and What We Can Do to Get It Back (Free Press) by John Kao. The author argues that there has been a serious erosion is recent years of U.S. competitiveness in innovation. He claims that countries such as Denmark, Finland and Singapore are trumping America in their more focused and creative approaches to fueling innovation. Kao argues that the United States still has the capability not only to regain its competitive edge, but to take a bold step out ahead of the global community and secure a leadership role in the 21st century. However, American manufacturers must take serious and concerted action fast.

Innovation to the Core: A Blueprint for Transforming the Way Your Company Innovates(Harvard Business School Press) by Peter Skarzynski and Rowan Gibson. Despite all the hype about the importance of innovation, many companies have struggled to innovate in a way that fuels consistent growth and sustained success. Innovation is often more rhetoric than reality and more buzzword that core competence. The authors discuss examples of how a wide variety of organizations have overcome the barriers to successful, profitable innovation. They also explain how to put systems and processes in place that can make innovation self-sustaining.

Making Innovation Work: How to Manage It, Measure It, and Profit from It(Wharton School Publishing) by Tony Davila, Marc Epstein and Robert Shelton. To compete effectively, manufacturers must innovate-not just once, but consistently, across their entire enterprise. But, profitable innovation doesn’t just happen. This book offers a start-to-finish process for driving growth from innovation, including a review of techniques that have worked successfully at leading companies such as Apple and Toyota. The authors also challenge prevalent misconceptions about innovation.

Payback: Reaping the Rewards of Innovation(Harvard Business School Press) by James Andrew and Harold Sirkin. According to the authors, successful innovation has little to do with luck and everything to do with understanding and controlling the factors that drive profitability. This book features more than 70 case studies-including both success stories and failures-based on Boston Consulting Group’s work with manufacturers around the world. Andrew and Sirkin claim that “thousands of good ideas exist within every organization, even those that don't think of themselves as ‘innovative.’ The real problem these companies have is turning their ideas into cash. They lack discipline in the innovation-to-cash process, a key lever for innovation success that involves collecting, screening, nurturing and commercializing ideas in a way that achieves payback.”

The Game-Changer: How You Can Drive Revenue and Profit Growth with Innovation(Random House) by A.G. Lafley and Ram Charan. According to the authors, we live in a world of unprecedented change, increasing global competitiveness and the very real threat of commoditization. Charan and Lafley claim that innovation is the best way for companies to win and thrive in this new landscape. This book explains how Procter & Gamble has integrated innovation into everything it does to create new products, new markets and new customers. As a result, the consumer goods giant has tripled profits over the last seven years. Other leading manufacturers profiled include General Electric, Hewlett-Packard and Nokia.