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The Myths of Innovation

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  2,657 Ratings  ·  104 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 Sc ...more
ebook, 192 pages
Published May 4th 2007 by O'Reilly Media (first published January 1st 2007)
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Donner Wetter
Jun 20, 2015 Donner Wetter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jan 19, 2013 Gregg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
May 03, 2010 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 30, 2011 Erwin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Steve Garfield
Dec 04, 2009 Steve Garfield rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I knew it. Everything we learned in school WAS wrong. This is a great read.
Alicia Kachmar
Penn Hillman Scholars program is giving us "summer reading"...
Yvo Hunink
While some of the myths seem trivial, Scott Berkun acknowledges this, they are indeed common thoughts that have crossed my mind too.

With clear examples, Scott dismisses many of the common thoughts we have. For example, did you know the Wright brothers promoted their newly developed aeroplane as a device that could stop the need for war, because it would make it to easy to spot enemy troops? Their envisioned use has clearly turned a different way and so do most ideas.

A good read for anyone who ha
Jan 02, 2017 Melisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting but he goes on and on after the point is made.
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
Mar 30, 2008 Raghu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 22, 2008 Steve rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Krishna Kumar
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
Jun 13, 2013 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Bhashit Parikh
Dec 08, 2016 Bhashit Parikh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For those familiar with Nassim Taleb's work, this might not bring much new stuff to the table. But still, that doesn't take anything away from the book.
Apr 18, 2008 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Hana Kazazovic
Nov 09, 2015 Hana Kazazovic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 29, 2007 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jun 07, 2007 Andy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Aug 15, 2007 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Marta Borowska
Aug 05, 2015 Marta Borowska rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a good book on innovation.

Berkun discusses the myth of the epiphany, the myth of the lone inventor, and delves into the history of innovation. The book provides some useful tips on pitching ideas and on motivating yourself to be innovative. Anger is discussed as a motivator which makes sense to me partially because of the intensity of the emotion. He suggests to recycle this emotion into shaping something great.

The examples Berkun uses are widely known and therefore relatable and easy t
May 16, 2013 Willis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 08, 2010 MI2 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
“Einstein said, “ Imagination is more important than knowledge,” but you’d be hard-pressed to find schools or corporations that invest in people with those priorities. The systems of education and professional life, similar by design, push the idea-finding habits of fun and play to the corners of our minds, training us out of our creativity.[117] We reward conformance of mind, not independent thought, in our systems — from school to college to the workplace to the home — yet we wonder why so few are willing to take creative risks.” 3 likes
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