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The Myths of Innovation

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  4,437 ratings  ·  139 reviews
Since its initial publication, this classic bestseller has been discussed on NPR, MSNBC, CNBC, and at Yale University, MIT, Carnegie Mellon University, Microsoft, Apple, Intel, Google,, and other major media, corporations, and universities around the world. It has changed the way thousands of leaders and creators understand the world. The release of this paperba ...more
Paperback, 248 pages
Published August 30th 2010 by O'Reilly Media (first published January 1st 2007)
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Donner Wetter
Jun 12, 2015 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
Q.T. Pi
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  ·  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
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
John de' Medici
Jan 06, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
An easily accessible read that debunks notions that most of us usually have on innovation, innovators and where ground-breaking ideas come from.

The book outlines some of these myths, where they originate from, what they get wrong, and most importantly hints at the murky, complicated, beautiful and messy way that innovations spring.

An overall good read.
Amanda Farrell
Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book for entrepreneurs or anyone interested in the history of innovation! Also, some interesting clips of the author speaking on Youtube.
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 rated it really liked it
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  ·  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
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
May 03, 2010 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. ...more
Steve Garfield
Dec 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I knew it. Everything we learned in school WAS wrong. This is a great read.
Aug 12, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Penn Hillman Scholars program is giving us "summer reading"... ...more
Oct 08, 2010 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
Stephen Wilkinson
The Myths of Innovation uses many other works to define innovation in condensed and useful language, easy to read. If you are an entrepreneur, or are a practising designer or engineer, this isn't going to tell you anything you don't already understand somewhere in your conscious, but it is going to help you articulate to others, when the need arises, what innovation is, and how best to best support a knowledge worker towards your goals.

There is always a challenge between innovation and the statu
Jul 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
With just 147 pages, Scott is able to breakdown the concept of innovation, offering insights on the history of innovation, debunking myths around epiphany and serendipity, discussing factors that may influence or contribute to innovation while evaluating innovations in the light of success vs failure and good versus bad. Personally, a key takeaway is the importance of framing a problem where the bulk of the effort should be spent on defining the problem, as "a properly defined problem is partial ...more
Antoine Buteau
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.
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Martin Chalupa
I liked the ideas presented in the book. How things evolve and there is no single point of breakthrough innovation but rather layers of ideas which overtime create big innovation together. I felt that the book repeated the idea from multiple angles. I usually prefer shorter get to the point description and in the end, it felt a bit repetitive. I would probably be satisfied with a much shorter version.
May 23, 2017 rated it liked it
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! :)
André Gomes
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.
Nov 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book especially because it has history. The only reason I did not give a 5 star is because many negative references refer to "she" while more of the positive references refer to "he". Also minimal reference to female innovators as examples other than Madame Curie which is odd or history did not record them? ...more
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. ...more
Feb 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
David Wygant
Jul 23, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Yuu Suwapee
May 12, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
This book is not necessary be 300 pages (in Thai translator version). This book does not contains that much main idea to thick like that.
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Blows away the public perception of the innovator god and shows that we are at this stage of history through the building of ideas upon ideas. Well written, short and fun. Don’t miss the Colophon.
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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.” 7 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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