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The Myths of Innovation

4.5 out of 5 stars 121 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596521847
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596521844
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 7.9 x 4.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,310,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Scott Berkun has written a great little book on debunking the myths of innovation. He uses the myths to help explain how innovation happens. He also delves into some of the reasons for why these myths are popular and then proceeds to provide some insights on how to approach innovation without falling prey to these myths.

He starts the book with a great story of when he visited Google's head quarters and joined a tour group. He describes the moment when two of his co-tourists whispered to each other pointing over to a group of programmers "I see them talking and typing, but when do they come up with their ideas". This lays the groundwork for the rest of the book. It's a question many people ask of any creative/innovative person. Scott continues to explore our fascination with innovation and our desire to find the hidden secrets. Like all myths, the ones behind innovation are derived from quaint stories from history; Newton's Apple, Archimedes' bath tub.

Each chapter addresses one of the main myths and exposes the real path to innovation:
- the myth of epiphany,
- we understand the history of innovation,
- there is a method for innovation,
- people love new ideas,
- the lone inventor
- and many more.

The book is a fun read, and Scott has a very witty writing style. His stories and personal experiences help to explain some of his counter-intuitive demythologizing. As always the classic sign of a book I love, is that by the end I have many pages highlighted and copious notes written down the margins. Scott's book definitely fell into the category of `stimulating'. Even when I disagreed with him, I agreed with his underlying point.

I highly recommend the book for anyone interested in innovation.
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Format: Hardcover
(review of 2nd edition - 10/03/2010)

"Innovation" is a word that gets used so often in marketing hype that it seems to have lost its meaning. Scott Berkun sets out to reclaim the word and offer up a true definition in his book The Myths of Innovation. I found this book so compelling while reading it on my iPad that I ended up figuring out how to do highlighting as there were many points I wanted to remember and ponder.

Table of Contents:
The myth of epiphany; We understand the history of innovation; There is a method for innovation; People love new ideas; The lone inventor; Good ideas are hard to find; Your boss knows more about innovation than you; The best ideas win; Problems and solutions; Innovation is always good; Epilogue - Beyond hype and history; Creating thinking hacks; How to pitch an idea; How to stay motivated; Research and recommendations

One of the reasons this book resonated so deeply with me is due to my view of how people add importance to events that weren't critical at the time. For instance, a particular battle may be touted as the turning point of a war, and a commander's decision a brave and ingenious move. But the battle could have just as well been lost, no one would have written it up, and some other potential outcome would have decided the war. We seem to think that the outcome we received was the only possible course, and that's incorrect. Quoting Berkun: "Yes, when we look at any history timeline, we're encouraged to believe that other outcomes were impossible. Because the events on timelines happened, regardless of how bizarre or unlikely, we view them today as predetermined." I'm glad to see that Myths fights back against this common belief.
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Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed reading this book, it was a quick light-hearted read. While I didn't learn anything earth-shattering, it was a nice way to pass a few hours and to inspire a bit of brain-storming. The author did try to inject humour in his writing, but much of it came across as rather cheesy.

If that is what you're after, then this book is fine. If you're after something more serious, then I would suggest looking elsewhere.

The author doesn't appear to have done any real research aside from surfing the web and chatting to people in bars. The book reads more like a personal blog of somebody who spends a lot of time reading about innovation. About half of the books "citations" were to web-pages (many of which are now dead links).

Overall this book comes across as an earnest attempt by a "pro-am". I suspect that it would have made for a great blog if the author turned each chapter into a post; but as a book it just feels cheesy and lacking real substance or authority.

I would have given it only one or two stars on the basis of the content, if not for the fact that the light-hearted tone made it enjoyable to read. So, overall, it's "Okay".
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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