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The Myths of Innovation

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  4,035 ratings  ·  123 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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3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,035 ratings  ·  123 reviews

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Donner Wetter
Jun 12, 2015 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 22, 2014 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
Q.T. Pi
Feb 11, 2018 rated it liked it
A short read that reminds you good things don't necessarily happen all at once. It's human nature to want to attribute groundbreaking discoveries to one person, when in reality the overnight success was really forty years in the making.

There were over 500 people working on the Apollo Mission that landed the first man on the moon but people associate it with Neil Armstrong, and sometimes Buzz Aldrin. Thomas Edison only invented the lightbulb because the technology already existed from the discov
Michael Huang
There are some myths about innovation: they come from epiphany, people like new ideas, managers are great at encouraging them... In reality, the author claims, innovation is rather different. They are the result of small steps, rather than one inspiration. People actually find new things unfamiliar so feed them smaller increments such as giving them samples to get used to. Many great ideas are rejected by managers, editors, and what not. So don’t feel discouraged.

Overall, the observations are p
Jan 14, 2013 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
Howard Liu
Aug 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book with lots of historical references that reveal the practical side of innovation. By stripping innovation from its falsely glorified epiphanies, the writer convinces us that the great creations in history are accomplished by people similar to you and I, who put themselves in the right environment, defined clear goals, built upon existing ideas, then achieved it via plain grit and balls. However, in an effort to explain his points and perhaps lighten the mood, the book makes many ...more
Michael Scott
Jun 27, 2011 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 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
Jul 31, 2008 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
Yvo Hunink
Dec 16, 2016 rated it liked it
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
May 03, 2010 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.
Aug 12, 2014 rated it it was ok
Penn Hillman Scholars program is giving us "summer reading"...
Steve Garfield
Dec 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I knew it. Everything we learned in school WAS wrong. This is a great read.
Oct 08, 2010 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
Johnny Graber
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
It starts with a Berkun-typical anecdote but quickly turns into a history book about (American) interventions. I like this style much more and I am happy that it is more about facts than episodes out of Scott’s life. The myths he tries to debunk are strawman arguments at best and where in other books much better debunked using far less words and better examples. All in all, I fail to see what Scott adds to the topic of innovation.
Antoine Buteau
Mar 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: blinkist-app
Good ideas can come from anywhere and are usually the result of the connection of multiple small insights. Eureka moments don't really exist as ideas rest in the mind and the connections are made by doing other activities or mingling with other people. An other factor to keep in mind is how the innovation will fit in the current cultural values.
Book is OK, examples are good, but would have wanted more tools.
André Gomes
Feb 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: management
New ideas need to be nurtured and developed over time in an encouraging environment. The modern workplace is a challenging environment for innovation because it’s overseen by managers whose training and experience go against the forces required for innovation. This book gives you some good insights to get rid of false ideias about innovation and create a better environment for it go flourish.
May 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although it is a thorough read on the topic I found it really hard to chew, as you can see on the time I needed for the read.

A delight were the last two chapters which appear to be added in later editions. Considering that this was his first book I'm really happy that he learned so much from it, I really recommend his later works! :)
Deane Barker
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful book on all the lies we've been told about how innovation happens. Well-written. Funny and witty, with scads of footnotes and historical references.
David Wygant
Jul 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
New ideas need to be nurtured and developed over time in an encouraging environment. Relentlessly generate new ideas. Use samples and demos to lower risk.
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book with a realistic understanding of innovation. It clearly explains the mismatch between what society thinks about the innovation process and the realities of it.
Feb 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Pretty obvious stuff with some good bits of trivia mixed in, but sometimes we need reminders of the obvious stuff to keep doing the hard stuff.
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
Jul 11, 2007 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
Jan 22, 2008 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
Krishna Kumar
May 19, 2015 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
May 21, 2013 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
Aug 23, 2012 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
Teerapon T.
Feb 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Extend my perspective about how innovation came from, including their journeys.
Aug 29, 2007 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
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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
“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.” 6 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.” 5 likes
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