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Terry Bleizeffer RSS Feed (Durham, NC USA)

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The Myths of Innovation
The Myths of Innovation
by Scott Berkun
Edition: Hardcover
51 used & new from $3.74

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great, worthwhile read, June 11, 2007
Have you ever been to a party and met someone with a great job and a great sense of humor and ended up spending the entire party drinking beer and swapping interesting stories? That's what Scott Berkun's new book, "The Myths of Innovation", felt like to me. There are lots of books on my shelf that I know I ought to read, and many of them I struggle through and afterwards feel like it was a valuable investment of my time, however painful. This wasn't one of them - this is one of those rare books that feels like reading for pleasure, and yet you learn something along the way.

And I might add that the colophon alone is worth the price of the book (a sentence that perhaps has never been written).

I wonder how much time and research Berkun did on this book before he came up with the idea of orienting the book around myths? Was that the idea all along? Or did it emerge over time? Because it turns out to be a perfect way of presenting the material. First, everyone loves to feel like they know something that other people don't - the truth behind the myths. This "peeking behind the curtain" approach is a great way to keep the material interesting. Second, innovation is such a complex area that it would be very difficult to write a book about what innovation is -- it's a lot easier to talk about what it isn't. But by providing the boundaries via the myths, it inevitably provides great insight into how innovation really happens. And third, myth debunking seems to fit Berkun's auctorial voice. His casual, conversational tone is not only funny and engaging, but it naturally allows the type of speculation and interpretation that is necessary for the topic. In other words, a textbook-style examination of innovation would be a very poor choice.

While I enjoyed the entire book, I particularly enjoyed in the section on the myth of "the best idea wins". In it, Berkun describes the many factors that are involved in whether an innovation succeeds, and how being the "best" is only one of many factors. When it comes to design innovation in established software, the impact of "dominant design" is always a challenge - what is the cost of moving to something better when you have a large customer base who already knows how to use the product? One example in the book is the QWERTY keyboard that we all know and loathe. But to lesser degree this is always the case - I can't convince my wife to move from Paint to Photoshop for editing pictures because she knows how to use Paint. Whenever I try to tell her about how many great features there are in Photoshop, all she hears is "blah... blah... blah... [it will take lots of time to learn]... blah... blah... blah."

I recommend this book highly to anyone who has a job where innovation matters... which is just about everyone.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 7, 2013 6:01 AM PDT

Mac's Boys: Branch McCracken and the Legendary 1953 Hurryin' Hoosiers (Quarry Books)
Mac's Boys: Branch McCracken and the Legendary 1953 Hurryin' Hoosiers (Quarry Books)
by Jason Hiner
Edition: Paperback
Price: $18.48
46 used & new from $8.03

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-have for IU basketball fans, January 9, 2007
I can't recommend this book enough for Indiana fans, especially those like me with no memory of the 1953 championship. It was incredibly well-researched, with great information about the state of the game at the time (coming off the point-shaving scandals at CCNY, LIU, and Kentucky), the opposing teams and coaches, the individual players on the team, and the play-by-play action of each of the games. The play-by-play was especially exciting for me, because I went into the book without knowing which games we'd won and lost, so I didn't know the outcomes until the final whistle sounded. It is full of quotes by the players, coaches, and the press articles of the time. Buy it and read it - you won't be disappointed.

Here's a few anecdotes to whet your appetite:

- Indiana lost 3 games that season, and each of them were lost on the last-second shots.

- Branch McCracken told his players at the beginning of each season to avoid "drinking, smoking, and gambling." This worried the players, because they knew these were three of Bobby Leonard's favorite things.

- The Minnesota coach was Ozzie Cowles, who went to Minnesota from Michigan, where he led Michigan to their first ever NCAA tournament appearance. After returning from the NCAA tournament, here's what Cowles had to say: "We'd been gone for a week, but no one seemed to notice. A couple of days after we got back, Fritz Crisler [UM AD and head football coach] stuck his head in my office and asked me where I'd been. That was when I decided that Michigan was no place to coach basketball."

- Because of the draft for the Korean War, there was an exemption that allowed freshmen to play in 1951-52, which allowed Don Schlundt to play as a freshman. He was a sophomore in 52-53, and (answering my trivia question below) he broke the all-time B10 scoring record a bit more than halfway through his sophomore season. Remarkable.

- Though IU beat Kansas in the championship game, it was that Kansas team that really changed college basketball in the years that followed. Kansas had lost Clyde Lovelette the year before and weren't considered contenders. But they changed the way they played defense and adopted Iba's Oklahoma A&M pressure defense that Iba played in the final few minutes of the game when down by less than 6 points. This was a pressure defense that played passing lanes and guarded players without the ball (and new concept). That year's Kansas team decided to play that way for the entire game and almost road their defense to the title.

- Kentucky was banned from playing the entire 52-53 season because of recruiting violations and point-shaving. Kentucky chose not to penalize Rupp, though. At all.

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