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The Myths of Innovation

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,430 Ratings  ·  99 Reviews
How do we know if a hot new technology will succeed or fail? Most of us, even experts, get it wrong all the time. We depend more than we realize on wishful thinking and romanticized ideas of history. In the new paperback edition of this fascinating book, a book that has appeared on MSNBC, CNBC,, and in The New York Times, bestselling author Scot ...more
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published May 11th 2007 by O'Reilly Media (first published January 1st 2007)
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The Mythical Man-Month by Frederick P. Brooks Jr.Managing Humans by Michael LoppThe Deadline by Tom DeMarcoPeopleware by Tom DeMarcoThe Best Software Writing I by Joel Spolsky
Best Geek Management Books
8th out of 18 books — 11 voters
The Big Tiny by Dee  WilliamsThe Know-It-All by A.J. JacobsJab, Jab, Jab,  Right Hook by Gary VaynerchukA Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald MillerThe Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau
World Domination Summit 2014
31st out of 34 books — 5 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Donner Wetter
Jun 20, 2015 Donner Wetter rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: College kids, entrepreneurs, people who hate their boss, parents
I'm big on critical thinking. I'm also big on recognising magical thinking.

Back in college I'd meet girls who kept saying that their boyfriends are extremely smart and can read a book once and remember everything they've read. I then went and followed those guys around, looked at their studying habits from afar and saw that they not only read their books multiple times, they mark things, underline, annotate, note, make notes on notes, summarise, rehears and what have you.

There were no magical ge
Jan 19, 2013 Gregg rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
The science of creation is known as imagineering. I think these concepts should be taught at least at the high school level. The grand scheme of evolution is to be "equal" co-creators with ALL-THAT-IS. As we accelerate our movement towards that state, the necessary tools will come into place, and this book is one such tool. The writing was lucid and contemporary. I enjoyed how the author used real life examples of some of the great minds of our known history. Einstein, Newton, Galileo, Jobs, Mot ...more
Jan 22, 2014 Jessica rated it liked it
In a way, this book is an excellent bibliography for OTHER books on creativity and innovation. I liked it! I enjoyed it! It was short and sweet, and hammered home (repeatedly) the point that there is NO magic bullet for innovation and creativity - it may not be 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, but the ratio isn't far off. I loved the annotated and "ranked" bibliography, and this has definitely inspired other reading choices for me. It was nice to continue debunking the "linear progress of sc ...more
Michael Scott
Jul 17, 2011 Michael Scott rated it liked it
I read Scott Berkun's The Myths of Innovation as part of my own studies of innovation, creativity, and productivity in research (in other words, my own quest to improve my work-related abilities). It was a few hours' read.

What I liked about this book:
1. The easy-to-read feel.
2. The annotated and the ranked bibliographies, and in particular Scott Berkun's ranking system; books are sorted by the number of notes Scott took. Scott's ranked a solid 47 in my list.
3. The many points where I could say
George Rodriguez
Dec 14, 2011 George Rodriguez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookleverage-com
I immediately liked this book after reading the "Commitment to research accuracy" page near the front. Any author who goes above and beyond in their effort to provide the most accurate information they can and even provides a link to report inaccuracies cares about his readers and this resonates throughout the rest of the book.

Mr. Berkun has clearly been on a quest to discover not only the basics of creative thinking, but how it relates to entrepreneurs and invention. Using this bottom up approa
John McElhenney
Aug 07, 2008 John McElhenney rated it it was amazing
The eureka moment of innovation we are all hoping for is a fallacy. All of the fables of great inventions and ah-ha's (Newton's apple, Franklin's lightning strike) were not moments of inspiration but inflection points in a process of great effort.

The stages of innovation are:
1. Learning and submersion
2. Working the problem
3. Ah ha
4. The hard work that goes into realizing the ah ha.

Tons of us have epiphanies. Not very many of us use those insights to build an empire.

Berkun is a fantastic writer a
Sean Goh
Myths always serve promotion more than education.

It is an achievement to find a great idea, but an even greater achievement to successfully implement it to improve the world.

Not only do timelines express a false omnipotent view of history, they're superficial, offering an illusion of completeness.

The love of new ideas is a myth. We prefer ideas only after others have tested them. We confuse truly new ideas with good ideas that have already been proven, which just happen to be new to us.

The chall
Krishna Kumar
May 19, 2015 Krishna Kumar rated it it was ok
This book reminded me, rather surprisingly, of Simon Singh’s “Big Bang” book because both seem to use historical events and famous inventors/discoverers. But while Singh was content to be a passive observer of historical events, Berkun attempts to fit his view of innovation onto examples that have been cherry-picked.

Great books have an urgency to them. They look forward. The great books of innovation, “The Innovator’s Dilemma” and “Innovation and Entrepreneurship”, possess that quality of explai
Hana Kazazovic
Nov 09, 2015 Hana Kazazovic rated it really liked it
This is the book in which you can find everything about innovations – from their beginnings ’till today. I especially liked the history part in which Scott describes some world known innovations like Roseta Stone. Probably Roseta Stone was something ordinary in a time when it has been created.

In this book I found out that the first brand of consumer refrigerator in America was “Frigidaire”. Scott said that as a kid, he laughed because his grandparents called every refrigerator just like that. I
May 03, 2010 James rated it it was amazing
Had the privilege of reading a pre-publication draft of this. It's short, and I recommend it. In particular I want to take the "Myth of the Lone Inventor" chapter and wave it at half the people in Silicon Valley.
Alicia Kachmar
Sep 19, 2014 Alicia Kachmar rated it it was ok
Penn Hillman Scholars program is giving us "summer reading"...
Steve Garfield
Dec 04, 2009 Steve Garfield rated it it was amazing
I knew it. Everything we learned in school WAS wrong. This is a great read.
Aug 30, 2011 Erwin rated it really liked it
Notes from Myths of Innovation:

I wondered whether Beethoven or Hemingway, great minds noted for thriving on conflict, could survive in such a nurturing environment without going postal. How did Shakespeare and Stephen King create so much, while we're satisfied watching sitcom reruns?

Myths are often more satisfying to us than the truth, which explains their longevity and resistance to facts: we want to believe that they're true. This begs the question: is shaping the truth into the form of an epi
Mar 30, 2008 Raghu rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: dorai thodla
Recommended to Raghu by: reference from the web
This book is an absorbing read about the idea of innovation, the associated myths of how innovation happens and succeeds eventually. The book is only about 150 pages and is an engaging read. It shows how we can all be innovators and examines the great innovations of history and shows how they are mostly the products of hard work on one's part, the knowledge of the domain from the past and how it is mostly the work of a team rather than a sudden epiphany of one individual who has spent just a few ...more
Jun 13, 2013 Greg rated it really liked it
The need for a book like this - as a counterweight to the inexhaustible work of the PR and marketing trades - has been felt for decades. At last, a bright evisceration of many genius myths that discourage ordinary people from believing they can be innovators themselves. Most appreciated is the emphasis on the progression of an innovation from its genesis in a well defined problem, to attempted solutions, to failure, more failure, still more failure and eventually to a fully formed, new and usefu ...more
Socrates Chinniah
Sep 11, 2012 Socrates Chinniah rated it really liked it
Simply one of the best - especially if you are looking for one.

There are good authors who can keep a reader truly engaged to a book. And there are authors who would keep a reader engaged to the book and inspire none the less.

Breaking down any complex process or thoughts into simple clean ideas without ever losing the essence of what is required to be conveyed requires great skill. Scott berkun possess the skill of advertently transferring the readers into the concept of the book through the us
Jan 22, 2008 Steve rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: bright young people who are considering an 'innovation-centric' career
Shelves: technical
I had a nice review all written up and saved on my Windows box, and then some combination of Windows and emacs decided to eat it. Grrr.

Like most of the reviewers of this book, I walked away feeling disappointed: there was not enough 'there' there for me to justify the purchase. It's a great book if you're pursuing an "innovation-centric" career and you're just starting out, or if you've managed to never do anything innovative in your life and you realize that you have to manage a team that needs
Camille McCarthy
Dec 01, 2013 Camille McCarthy rated it liked it
A good book for those who want to learn more about what being innovative really means and want some helpful advice on being creative. It's a bit basic and would probably be more useful to a high school student. I was not altogether satisfied with the very short anecdotal examples told but he wrote good footnotes with information on how to find more detailed information for those interested. It had a lot of similarities with "Mad Like Tesla" but I would suggest reading "the Myths of Innovation" ...more
Aug 29, 2007 Scott rated it really liked it
If you're new to innovation studies and management theory, this is a great little airport book that serves as a solid introduction to many of the major thoughts/trends without requiring too much. Plus, it doesn't take up too much room in your briefcase!

To boil all that down, it's a really well-done second-source introduction to management and innovation, but pretty useless if you've read the source materials in his excellent "Research and Recommendations" section, particularly
Drucker's "Innova
Sep 21, 2015 Gabby rated it did not like it
I had to read this book for a college freshman class. This book had nothing to do with what we were learning in class and taught me absolutely nothing. Honestly, my favorite part was the preface, and that says a lot. I suppose if you go into business or something along that lines you would like this book, but if you are a teacher, please don't make your students read this book!!!
Apr 18, 2008 Chris rated it liked it
Shelves: othernonfiction
Maybe I've read too many books that largely agree with this, but the conclusions and reasoning seemed too obvious. The basic thesis of this book is that innovation doesn't just happen as the result of flashes in the pan genius, but that hard work is required both to get the background knowledge necessary for that connection to occur, and to draw out the consequences and realize the application of a moment of innovation. Therefore, companies looking to innovate can't just rely on buzzwordy approa ...more
Jun 08, 2016 Piotr rated it liked it
The book is good and contains many interesting examples of discoveries (though, sometimes a bit repetitive and self-helpish; instead, I would really want to get more detailed, and varied, examples). What is great, is its summary by its author: (which is a masterpiece condensate).
Jun 15, 2014 Gernot rated it really liked it
Shelves: consulting
Innovation - such a big ans often used word.
Scott Berkun takes innovation back to the ground.
He also gives practical advices so that you are not totally lost..

Funny to read and many practical tipps. But expect to be disappointed because he puts dreams of magical innovations back to earth.
Jun 07, 2007 Andy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who want to change the world
Berkun has a clever approach to presenting the kernel of what it means to innovate, both in today's society and the past. The concept of innovation in society is seen today as a glorious, spontaneous, self-driven event, but Berkun looks to disprove these myths. Anyone who has ever wondered what it really takes to make an idea succeed, but has failed to make it happen, could probably gain a bit of knowledge from this read -- as well as getting a few laughs along the way. Good historical reference ...more
Apr 26, 2015 Ilana rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2015
This book is essential a 200 page book for people that don't want to read 400+ page books on innovation. I am one of them, so I found this book satisfactory.The lack of female innovators in the book very depressing and would have liked to add an additional myth of innovation that all innovators are male. Generally over simplified and redundant, but hey, if you want sophistication, perhaps you should go read one of the better, longer books cited. I ain't got time for that.
Lim Hooi
Nov 25, 2014 Lim Hooi rated it it was ok
This book listed out the possible ways of being innovative and what did not work. It served as a reminder list for myself and validated some of the thoughts I derived from my experiences. This book shared the conclusions I have with "The Myth of Creativity".
Usually brilliant, occasionally a bit slow. I find the "video version" of the book far more engaging :
But the book is a must read for how you think about "innovation" and creativity. The content is superb.
Vladimir Chupakhin
Apr 06, 2015 Vladimir Chupakhin rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
So, from perspective of a scientist this book is naive and too simple, yet stating very important things, that everyone have to know - like Apple is not the first who invented handheld devices, or especially 'innovations are not epiphany'
Aug 31, 2011 Prabhat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What are your mental blocks and prejudices about Creativity and Innovation? You should check them out against this book. A fast-paced, funny and provocative book...that should make you THINK! It may not be the deepest tome on the subject, but it's the bare-minimum you should know... and it's brimful of exciting ideas, and ideas-about-ideas (meta-ideas?)! The greatest strength of this short book is its states facts, plain and hypes, no hiding away behind buzzwords and ...more
Jul 03, 2012 Ms.Given rated it really liked it
I read this book hoping to gain some insight into the work I do with gifted middle school students. I found Berkun's take on creativity refreshing and a good reminder that creativity requires work, time and attention and that epiphanies are not singular magical insights for nowhere, but rather more like the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle fitting into place to reveal the whole picture. The book is filled with panecdotes of people you have and have never heard of and puts creativity into a more rea ...more
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Scott Berkun is the author of four popular books, Making Things Happen, The Myths of Innovation, Confessions of a Public Speaker and Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds. His work as a writer and speaker have appeared in the The Washington Post, the New York Times, Wired, the Economist, Fast Company, Forbes, CNBC, MSNBC, CNN, National Public Radio and other media. His many popular essays and ente ...more
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“The Greeks were so committed to ideas as supernatural forces that they created an entire group of goddesses (not one but nine) to represent creative power; the opening lines of both The Iliad and The Odyssey begin with calls to them. These nine goddesses, or muses, were the recipients of prayers from writers, engineers, and musicians. Even the great minds of the time, like Socrates and Plato, built shrines and visited temples dedicated to their particular muse (or muses, for those who hedged their bets). Right now, under our very secular noses, we honor these beliefs in our language, as the etymology of words like museum ("place of the muses") and music ("art of the muses") come from the Greek heritage of ideas as superhuman forces.” 4 likes
“The best lesson from the myths of Newton and Archimedes is to work passionately but to take breaks. Sitting under trees and relaxing in baths lets the mind wander and frees the subconscious to do work on our behalf. Freeman Dyson, a world-class physi- cist and author, agrees: “I think it’s very important to be idle...people who keep themselves busy all the time are generally not creative. So I am not ashamed of being idle.” 3 likes
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