The Myths of Innovation

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Overview

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, Slashdot.org, Lifehacker.com and in The New York Times, bestselling author Scott Berkun pulls the best lessons from the history of innovation, including the recent software and web age, to reveal powerful and suprising truths about how ideas become successful innovations — truths people can easily apply to the challenges of today. Through his entertaining and insightful explanations of the inherent patterns in how Einstein’s discovered E=mc2 or Tim Berner Lee’s developed the idea of the world wide web, you will see how to develop existing knowledge into new innovations.

Each entertaining chapter centers on breaking apart a powerful myth, popular in the business world despite it's lack of substance. Through Berkun's extensive research into the truth about innovations in technology, business and science, you’ll learn lessons from the expensive failures and dramatic successes of innovations past, and understand how innovators achieved what they did — and what you need to do to be an innovator yourself. You'll discover:

  • Why problems are more important than solutions
  • How the good innovation is the enemy of the great
  • Why children are more creative than your co-workers
  • Why epiphanies and breakthroughs always take time
  • How all stories of innovations are distorted by the history effect
  • How to overcome people’s resistance to new ideas
  • Why the best idea doesn’t often win

The paperback edition includes four new chapters, focused on appling the lessons from the original book, and helping you develop your skills in creative thinking, pitching ideas, and staying motivated.

"For centuries before Google, MIT, and IDEO, modern hotbeds of innovation, we struggled to explain any kind of creation, from the universe itself to the multitudes of ideas around us. While we can make atomic bombs, and dry-clean silk ties, we still don’t have satisfying answers for simple questions like: Where do songs come from? Are there an infinite variety of possible kinds of cheese? How did Shakespeare and Stephen King invent so much, while we’re satisfied watching sitcom reruns? Our popular answers have been unconvincing, enabling misleading, fantasy-laden myths to grow strong."

— Scott Berkun, from the text

"Berkun sets us free to change the world."

— Guy Kawasaki, author of Art of the Start

Scott was a manager at Microsoft from 1994-2003, on projects including v1-5 (not 6) of Internet Explorer. He is the author of three bestselling books, Making Things Happen, The Myths of Innovation and Confessions of a Public Speaker. He works full time as a writer and speaker, and his work has appeared in The New York Times, Forbes magazine, The Economist, The Washington Post, Wired magazine, National Public Radio and other media. He regularly contributes to Harvard Business Review and Bloomberg Businessweek, has taught creative thinking at the University of Washington, and has appeared as an innovation and management expert on MSNBC and on CNBC. He writes frequently on innovation and creative thinking at his blog: scottberkun.com and tweets at @berkun.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780596527051
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/15/2007
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott Berkun worked on the Internet Explorer team at Microsoft from 1994-1999 and left the company in 2003 with the goal of writing enough books to fill a shelf. The Myths of Innovation is his second book: he wrote the best seller, The Art of Project Management (O'Reilly 2005). He makes a living writing, teaching and speaking. He teaches a graduate course in creative thinking at the University of Washington, runs the sacred places architecture tour at NYC's GEL conference, and writes about innovation, design and management at http://www.scottberkun.com.

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Table of Contents

Photo credits;
Chapter openers;
Figures;
Preface;
The aims of this book;
Assumptions I've made about you;
The research accuracy commitment;
How to use this book;
Chapter 1: The myth of epiphany;
1 Ideas never stand alone;
Chapter 2: We understand the history of innovation;
1 Why does history seem perfect?;
2 Evolution and innovation;
Chapter 3: There is a method for innovation;
1 How innovations start;
2 The challenges of innovation;
3 The infinite paths of innovation;
4 Finding paths of innovation;
Chapter 4: People love new ideas;
1 Managing the fears of innovation;
2 The list of negative things innovators hear;
3 The innovator's dilemma explained;
4 Frustration + innovation = entrepreneurship?;
5 How innovations gain adoption (the truth about ideas before their time);
Chapter 5: The lone inventor;
1 The convenience of lone inventors;
2 The challenge of simultaneous invention;
3 The myth of the lone inventor;
4 Stepping stones: the origins of spreadsheets and E=mc2;
Chapter 6: Good ideas are hard to find;
1 The dangerous life of ideas;
2 How to find good ideas;
3 Ideas and filters;
Chapter 7: Your boss knows more about innovation than you;
1 The myth that managers know what to do;
2 Five challenges of managing innovation;
Chapter 8: The best ideas win;
1 Why people believe the best wins;
2 The secondary factors of innovation;
3 Space, metrics, and Thomas Jefferson;
4 The goodness/adoption paradox;
Chapter 9: Problems and solutions;
1 Problems as invitations;
2 Framing problems to help solve them;
3 The truth about serendipity;
Chapter 10: Innovation is always good;
1 Measuring innovation: the goodness scale;
2 Innovations are unpredictable (DDT, automobiles, and the Internet);
3 Technology accelerates without discrimination;
4 The good and bad, the future and the past;
Appendix A: Research and recommendations;
A.1 Annotated bibliography;
A.2 Ranked bibliography;
A.3 Other research sources;
Colophon;

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2013

    Complete rubbish

    Zero insight just tedious blog
    Little tidbits of disconnected facts - no doubt all taken from internet or plagiarized
    Annoying style too. Like "you'll find this amazing but..." followed by another real yawner
    The only thing i find amazing is that this guy could publish a book - i imagine he's very happy someone "innovated" the internet and that it wasn't a myth

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    What Innovation is Not...

    "Myths of Innovation" (Scott Berkum, Oreilly, ISBN: 978-1-449-38962-8, 228 pages) is an expanded and paper back edition of the hard back book by the same name by the same author. I got an early copy of the eBook as part of O'Reilly Blogger Review program. Unlike conventional books on Innovation, in this book, the author tries to expose some of the popular innovation myths. This, he does by giving a number of examples, incidents and anecdotes. The point he tries to prove is that there is no substitute for hard work and grind, that innovations don't happen by accident, that anyone can innovate - not just the Newtons and Einsteins of the world. After he exposes the myths, the author proceeds to give some practical tips on how to innovate. He says, do not use the term "innovate" - instead solve problems, implement ideas, cure an illness, and so on. As the Nike slogan goes, he says "Just Do it". The book is an easy read. The author has a comfortable style of writing, perhaps, coming out of his innumerable essays and seminars/discussions. I would recommend this book to anyone who has been "told to innovate" or claims to be working in an organization that "innovates".

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  • Posted October 27, 2010

    THE MOTHER OF INNOVATION!!

    Are you an innovative thinker? If you are, then this book is for you. Author Scott Berkun, has done an outstanding job of writing an expanded and revised book on where ideas originate to how they are made into things that change the world. Berkun, begins by discussing how it is an achievement to find a great idea, but an even greater achievement to successfully use it to improve the world. Next, the author explores why, much like the myth of epiphany, people are fond of reading and writing histories that make them feel better about the present. Then, he explains why there is no uniformity in innovative progress around the world; because, innovations may be adopted by one culture or nation decades before another. The author continues by explaining why innovations rarely involve someone working alone. Next, he examines how great ideas come from the repurposing of one thing for something else. Then, he discusses why persuasion fuels innovation at all levels. The author continues by explaining why the best ideas don't always win. Next, he discusses how new knowledge sometimes comes to the innovator in strange, bizarre, or incomprehensible experiences; and, why the innovator must chase these experiences until curiosities are exhausted or new solutions are found. Then, the author examines why the best philosophy of innovation is to accept both change and tradition and to avoid the traps of absolutes. He continues by explaining why there is so much hype around creativity today, that the simple truths get lost in the noise. Finally, the author gives advice on the three of the most essential challenges you'll face in trying to follow the simple plan of: coming up with ideas, explaining them to others, and staying motivated after the initial thrill of a new project is gone. This most excellent book recommends that discipline is required to seek motivation when feeling unmotivated; but, that is the difference between a "be" and a "want to be." You'll have to read the book to find out whether it will help you discover what you are capable of.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2007

    Inspired to Innovate

    It was an easy read and very entertaining. Scott Berkin is able to inject subtle humor throughout the book to help keep the readers interest. It debunked the myth of ¿build a better mouse trap and the world will beat a path to your door¿ Nothing is invented suddenly ¿ everything is built from the work of others. An inventor used all the knowledge available at the time, put different ideas and products together to `invent¿ or innovate something new. The second concept I found interesting was that many new ideas or `inventions¿ never made it at the time. A new idea or product requires several things to come together at once. First the public has to ready, there has to be a demand, second someone has to market it, get it out there to the public. It has to be easy to use or understand by the public. What is interesting is that many discoveries or inventions are credited to a now famous person from history, when in fact several others had done the same work or made the same invention or discovery, but they never moved forward with it, got it into the hands of the right people. Success was usually due to good business skills and clever marketing, not to mention finances to bankroll distribution or publicity. And many inventions were created indirectly while trying to solve a different problem. Being a Project Manager and tasked with solving problems, the most interesting concept Scott puts forth is that by clearly defining the problem up front, it almost solves itself. The solution becomes quite clear. The moral is: spend most of your time in defining the problem or project first, then executing a solution will be easy. The book contains many real life examples of products or ideas from ancient history to more modern times. The computer revolution references were particularly interesting to me, being of that generation and working in the IT field. The book contains a huge bibliography and copious foot notes for those that want additional information to substantiate Scott¿s ideas. It also had a nice index that would normally only be found in a text book or reference book. It was an inspiring book, made me want to revisit some of the ideas and products I had tinkered with in my garage now that I understand the forces at work behind great inventions. It¿s a book I would reference over and over again in order to re-inspire myself to continue any innovative Endeavour

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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