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The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas Hardcover – October 7, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (October 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118611144
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118611142
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Q&A with David Burkus, author of The Myths of Creativity


David Burkus

Why is creativity in the business world so vague and inaccessible?

The roots of it go back to our tendency to develop myths in the first place. When we as humans don't understand how something works, we usually develop some kind of educated guess or heuristic about it. Over time these heuristics become fully entrenched myths that can be hard to abandon. In the case of business, so much of "management" education teaches us to rely on solid principles and formulas that have been refined through the decades. Creativity, until recently, wasn't like that. It was hard to reduce to a set of defined metrics, and so many in business abandoned it all together, relying on outsourcing when needed to "creative" firms. Thankfully, decades of psychological insight into creativity have given us a means to study where it comes from and how to enhance it for greater innovation.

How can managers in the business world better understand what creativity is and where it comes from?

It starts by leaving the myths behind. The stories and heuristics we used to explain creativity and innovation aren't necessary and, in many cases, are contradictory to the empirical evidence. By beginning to study that evidence, managers will develop a better understanding of how great ideas develop and how to develop organizations that can consistently produce great ideas. Innovation will follow.

How did you determine the ten myths of creativity?

The myths actually grew from some research I began during my final few years of doctoral studies. I had focused on the relationship between leadership and innovation and was pretty orientated with what the literature had to say about how innovation happens. However, as I looked at how most organizations operated, they appeared to be misaligned with the evidence. As I looked deeper into these faulty beliefs and the motivations behind them, I came to realize how similar they were to the Greeks' mythology around creativity. No one still believes in the nine muses, but they do tell themselves a whole new set of myths of creativity.

Which myth is the one that almost all companies subscribe to and can be the most crippling?

I close the book with a discussion of the "Mousetrap Myth," the belief that once a good idea is generated, getting it implemented is easy. This comes from the maxim "If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door." It turns out that this saying is quite backwards. In most cases, when a great idea or innovation is presented to the world it is typically rejected at first. The digital camera, personal computers, and even talking pictures were all at first dismissed as nonsense. In most cases, if you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat you down and ignore your idea. The reason for this is most likely a psychological bias we all share against creative ideas. We say we want more creativity, but when we are presented with new ideas, we have a hard time recognizing their utility. This is something I see in almost all organizations.

Great ideas come from all levels of an organization, but pushing them through this bias at every level of the hierarchy is a long and arduous process that most people give up in the middle of. In this way, most organizations kill their most of their innovative ideas. Not all organizations are afflicted, though, many organizations have taken deliberate steps to counteract the bias and cultivate great ideas. Not surprisingly, those are the organizations seen at the top of so many "most innovative" or "great place to work" lists and experiencing outstanding growth in their industry.

Review

“An engaging book that makes its case in good, clear language… [Burkus] forces us to challenge some widely held assumptions.”
—Morgen Witzel, The Financial Times

“Outlines how anyone—especially entrepreneurs—can embrace a practical approach to finding the best kind of mojo for new projects, processes and programs.”
—Entrepreneur.com (selected as a “Best Business Book to Get Cozy With This Fall”)

“We may no longer literally worship the Muses, but the myths surrounding creativity continue to delude us. In this smart and urgent book, David Burkus explodes these myths and replaces them with the scientific results of modern research on creativity and innovation.”
—Daniel H. Pink, author, To Sell is Human and Drive

“Creative potential is all too often held captive by misconceptions. Burkus tackles the myths head on and digs into the true underpinnings of creative insight. It turns out that great ideas are within your grasp as soon as you take the reins. Read this book to free yourself of the myths and assumptions that burden your true creative potential.”
—Scott Belsky, author, Making Ideas Happen and cofounder & CEO, BEHANCE

“Through rigorous research and engaging stories, Burkus debunks the myths of creativity and illuminates a creative process that makes ingenuity accessible to all. If you seek a more innovative company, The Myths of Creativity is a brilliant find.”
—Liz Wiseman, author, Multipliers, and founder, The Wiseman Group

“David Burkus is an important new voice, both as a scholar and storyteller, as well as a commentator of the emerging ‘GenEntrepreneur’ in America.”
—Peter Sims, author, Little Bets, and founder, BLK SHP

The Myths of Creativity speaks the truth.  The processes, environments, and organizational structures that foster creativity, as well as the obstacles that inhibit innovation, are laid bare. David Burkus uncovers the hidden elements which have been at the core of Continuum's innovation process, driving us to find better answers to the biggest questions.”
—Gianfranco Zaccai, president, chief design officer, and founder, Continuum

“You must embrace your creative ability in order to thrive in today's marketplace. David Burkus swiftly and effectively debunks the myths that limit your creative firepower.”
—Todd Henry, author, The Accidental Creative


More About the Author

David Burkus is assistant professor of management at the College of Business at Oral Roberts University, where he teaches courses on creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, and organizational behavior. He is the founder and editor of LDRLB, an online publication that shares insights from research on leadership, innovation, and strategy. His work has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, PsychologyToday, Fast Company and the Harvard Business Review.

For more information, please visit http://davidburkus.com.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Dr. Burkus includes stories illustrating his points and research to support them.
avid reader
The Brainstorming Myth: One great idea will creative innovation, so generating as many ideas as possible leads to success.
Joel D Canfield
The style is easy to read and understand, and unlike many business books, it does not drone on for pages.
Joel Avrunin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Michael Lee Stallard on October 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
David Burkus' new book, "The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas," is among the best business books I've read this year. It provides a valuable review of research and practices related to the process of innovation. It's impossible to read "The Myths of Creativity" and not come away with new, useful practices that will improve your ability to innovate. I highly recommend it.

Readers of this book will gain a newfound appreciation for just how difficult innovation is. Fortunately, Burkus equips readers with practices to help individuals and organizations overcome the biases and potential pitfalls that frequently derail innovation. For example, Burkus shows how conflict is a necessary part of the process and represents a risk to innovation if it gets personal. He then goes on to provide a solution by describing the practice Pixar developed that employs conflict in a constructive way while keeping it from escalating into internal combat.

I liked the way Burkus organized the book into ten myths about creativity including the Eureka Myth, the Lone Creator Myth and the Constraints Myth. I also appreciated that the book is under 200 pages in length, and is easy to dip in and out of. Today's readers of business books, many of whom suffer from time poverty, will enjoy Burkus' straight forward, cut-to-the-chase, high value-added writing style.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bret L. Simmons on October 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
David Burkus has written an excellent evidence-based book on how innovation really works. His suggestions are backed by real peer-reviewed research, not just his opinion or anecdotal experience. What impressed me the most about this book is how well written it is. Even though it is substantive, it is an easy and enjoyable read. I highly recommend this book for any individual or organization that needs to be concerned about generating innovative ideas - which is most of us!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By R. McConaughy on October 19, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Burkus does a great job of writing for the reader. This is NOT one of those books where the writer is just proving to you how full of themselves they are. Burkus has good ideas that you can use to stimulate creativity in a world that wants creativity on demand. The stories are good. The myths are engaging. This book should be on the shelf of everyone interested in great ideas - and they should read it too.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mike Myatt on October 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Creativity is often talked about, but rarely understood. David helps readers clearly see a path beyond the status quo by helping them realize the only thing holding them back is buying into myths and false paradigms about what creativity is and is not. If you don't think you're creative, don't be surprised when others begin to believe you. Buy this book, read David's words and break out of whatever box you've placed yourself in.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By S. Kaplan on October 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With over 20 years in the field of business innovation, I've read a lot of books on the topic. The Myths of Creativity does a nice job at debunking some of the top assumptions in the field and then offering up alternatives for the real truths behind how creativity and innovation really works. The author provides a number of examples that don't get seen too often in the popular press, as well as empirical research to back up his claims. I can see this book becoming a standard textbook in university courses focused on design thinking, product development and even business strategy. For anyone looking for a solid primer on the current state of creativity and innovation in business this is a must read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jesse Lahey on October 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Creativity is the starting point for all innovation, and most organizations rely on innovation to create a competitive advantage. Innovation is necessary for the successful development and implementation of new programs or better products. Because of this, leaders of organizations in all industries are asking more questions about creativity. Where does it come from? How can we get more of it? Where do we find creative people? All these questions are valid, but the myths about creativity often lead us to the wrong answers. To lead innovation efforts, we must have a better understanding of where creativity comes from and how to enhance the creativity of ourselves and the people we lead.

David Burkus is a university professor who teaches courses on creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, and organizational behavior. He is the founder and editor of LDRLB, an online publication (which includes one of my favorite podcasts) that shares insights from research on leadership, innovation, and strategy.

In "The Myths of Creativity," Burkus demystifies the processes that drive innovation. First, he outlines four necessary components:
- Domain-relevant skills (commonly called expertise) are the knowledge, technical skills, or talent an individual possesses in a given domain.
- Creativity-relevant processes are the methods people use to approach a given problem and generate solutions.
- Task motivation is the willingness to engage. Simply put, it is passion.
- Social environment is the only component that exists entirely outside the individual. Research shows that the environment an individual operates in can either positively or negatively affect creative expression.
Read more ›
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