The Myths of Innovation
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The Myths of Innovation

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  1,162 ratings  ·  84 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 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
Michael Scott
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...more
Hans de Zwart
It was Scott Berkun's intention with this book "to provide a baseline of truth to free [the reader] from the misguided yet common notions around innovation that run rampant in business and popular culture today." He has done exactly that and has managed to do it in an entertaining way. He explain why the epiphany is myth, why people don't like new ideas, that the lone inventor doesn't really exist, that it is actually quite easy to find good ideas and more.

The book is a great kickstarter for any...more
George Rodriguez
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...more
Sarah Cunningham
I usually reach for fiction, but still can't resist the idea of reading books that are good for me - specifically, for Work Me. As of late,those are books about design, innovation, and the like.

This one is a relatively quick read. - I skimmed it thoroughly in a couple of hours. Its style is a bit like a Fast Company or Wired article (if one could be nearly 200 pages).

I gave it one star because it was a bit academic for my taste. The anecdotes and tips were good, but all things I've heard or re...more
John McElhenney
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...more
Alicia Kachmar
Aug 12, 2014 Alicia Kachmar is currently reading it
Penn Hillman Scholars program is giving us "summer reading"...
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
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.
Steve Garfield
I knew it. Everything we learned in school WAS wrong. This is a great read.
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...more
Mar 30, 2008 Raghu rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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
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...more
Jan 22, 2008 Steve rated it 2 of 5 stars
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...more
Camille Mccarthy
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
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...more
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
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 4 of 5 stars
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
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
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
A quick, must-read for any of you engineers or techies out there!

He lists and then debunks many of the favorite innovation myths we technical folks live by, for example, "The Myth of Epiphany," "The Myth of the Lone Inventor" and "People Like New Ideas."

Much of it helps describe to us technical folks why the rest of the world does not accept our proposed solutions based on their sheer genius and obvious (to us) improvement!

(I am still in the middle of reading this one, and would cite a few inter...more
This is a relatively short book but it is packed with different insights. Scott Berkun refutes various myths related to new innovation. For example, he explains that great ideas are actually pretty cheap and what great inventors are able to do is persist and work harder than anyone else to make their invention a reality. In other words, they weren't just lucky. He also talks about how there really is not such thing as a new original idea, every idea builds off of other ideas and new ideas are re...more
Ko Matsuo
Informative and easy to read book that de-mystifies innovation. Berkun's main point is that innovation does not necessarily equal originality or success. Edison didn't invent the light bulb and Ford didn't invent the automobile. Real innovation involves correctly framing the issue and having the motivation, resources, curiosity and determination to get there. After that, it's putting together pieces of the puzzle, framing problems right utilizing ideas developed by others, and winning the race t...more
goodreads has an incredible API and yet there is very little WordPress support for goodreads. Which is shocking since WP is the dominant platform where this integration would most likely thrive. There is one or two WP plugins that have ceased to be supported and both do not deal with public GROUPS only individual shelves...

We have an education site and would like to be able to simply SHOW the books listed in the group bookshelf, very similar to your output here (in the group bookshelf page) on o...more
Adam Jacobson
I liked the book but I probably would have liked it better if I hadn't just read "Where Good Ideas Come From" which struck me as a deeper more thought out book.
That said, I'd recommend this as a quick read for anyone who wants a quick read about how most modern, corporate notions of creativity are complete garbage and wants to know how the creative process actually works.
It's also a great place to start on the subject as Berkun gives copious notes (right on the page, thank you) as well as very...more
Innovation is a gradual process, usually built on the labor of the many rather than the one. The new ideas we get are generally not well-loved on arrival, and the "best" ideas aren't always adopted. But this incremental introduction of new ideas into a culture resistant to change is neither romantic nor memorable, so we rewrite the stories to introduce the lone inventor who revolutionizes the world. These are the myths of innovation that Berkun describes and systematically disassembles over the...more
Lou Cordero
There were no surprises here. Sent a simple message:
- There are no eureka moments. Hard work leads to success and innovation.
- Innovation doesn't always happen where and in the way expected.
- Innovation requires support... Good environment, good management, etc.
- Be careful what you wish for. Your innovation may not lead to the desired outcome (Einstein and the A-bomb for example).

Still, despite the lower rating, it's a quick read and worth it for anyone in the engineering and creative fields.
Bill Morgan
I like how Scott Berkun deconstructs the myths about innovation. There aren't lone geniuses out there; there are hardworking tinkeres who go through a lot to see their ideas to fruition. And communication/vision is a big part of idea/product adoption too. The people who get you to buy their product aren't necessarily the first to do it - they are the first to make it fit into what the public wants and/or read.

This is a very entertaining book with lots of interesting anecdotes. I recommend it!

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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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Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management Confessions of a Public Speaker The Year Without Pants: and the Future of Work The Art of Project Management Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds

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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.” 3 likes
“Nearly every major innovation of the 20th century took place without claims of epiphany.” 1 likes
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