The Myths of Innovation
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Released: August 2010
Pages: 248

In this new paperback edition of the classic bestseller, you'll be taken on a hilarious, fast-paced ride through the history of ideas. Author Scott Berkun will show you how to transcend the false stories that many business experts, scientists, and much of pop culture foolishly use to guide their thinking about how ideas change the world. With four new chapters on putting the ideas in the book to work, updated references and over 50 corrections and improvements, now is the time to get past the myths, and change the world.

You'll have fun while you learn:

  • Where ideas come from
  • The true history of history
  • Why most people don't like ideas
  • How great managers make ideas thrive
  • The importance of problem finding
  • The simple plan (new for paperback)

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, Amazon.com, and other major media, corporations, and universities around the world. It has changed the way thousands of leaders and creators understand the world. Now in an updated and expanded paperback edition, it's a fantastic time to explore or rediscover this powerful view of the world of ideas.

"Sets us free to try and change the world." --Guy Kawasaki, Author of Art of The Start

"Small, simple, powerful: an innovative book about innovation." --Don Norman, author of Design of Everyday Things

"Insightful, inspiring, evocative, and just plain fun to read. It's totally great." --John Seely Brown, Former Director, Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC)

"Methodically and entertainingly dismantling the cliches that surround the process of innovation." --Scott Rosenberg, author of Dreaming in Code; cofounder of Salon.com

"Will inspire you to come up with breakthrough ideas of your own." --Alan Cooper, Father of Visual Basic and author of The Inmates are Running the Asylum

"Brimming with insights and historical examples, Berkun's book not only debunks widely held myths about innovation, it also points the ways toward making your new ideas stick." --Tom Kelley, GM, IDEO; author of The Ten Faces of Innovation

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O'Reilly MediaThe Myths of Innovation
 
4.4

(based on 17 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (9)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (6)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (2)

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94%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Easy to understand (13)
  • Well-written (7)
  • Great insights (6)
  • Accurate (5)
  • Well written (5)

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Intermediate (6)
    • Novice (5)
    • Expert (4)
    • Student (4)
    • Gift (3)
      • Reviewer Profile:
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    Reviewed by 17 customers

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    5.0

    "No one knows what's possible"

    By Mahesh CR

    from Bangalore, India

    About Me Bookworm

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Broad Appeal
    • Deserves Multiple Readings
    • Easy To Understand
    • Expert Author

    Cons

      Best Uses

        Comments about O'Reilly Media The Myths of Innovation:

        The shiny demo of your favorite awesome product is perhaps the very last step of a journey that must have begun way earlier. Reading Scott Berkun's Myths of Innovation reinforced my experiences and clarified my understanding of how to innovate and sustain teams that innovate.

         
        3.0

        A fairly self-help business book

        By David Santo Orcero

        from Chilches, Málaga, Spain

        About Me Bookworm

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Good for firm owners
        • Good for middle managers
        • Good for undergrads
        • Great Insights
        • Well edited and written

        Cons

        • Not for innovation worker
        • Not too much information
        • Only management self-help

        Best Uses

        • Firm owners
        • Middle managers
        • Travel Reading
        • Younger Readers

        Comments about O'Reilly Media The Myths of Innovation:

        I usually read Berkin's blog, and I am pretty familiarized with his ideas. And Innovation is a hot topic now; so I thought that the book would be interesting.

        The book is well written, it is easy to understand, and well organized. The type fonts are big and clear (this should be a must; but unfortunately, It is not. I am pretty tired of unreadable and baldy formatted books).

        The style of the book is the same that you can read in Berkin's blog, and in lots of books: storytelling. He tells a story to you, and from the story he takes conclusions. That makes a book that it is easy and fast to read. The writing style is not technical, nor academical; it is more a "self-help management book" style. This have a good side (easy to read for non-technical people) and a bad side: you get the impression that a 200-page book could be a 75-page book with the same amount of information. The book can be resumed with a single phrase "Innovation needs work and commitment". But with examples and trying to be convincing.

        Anyway, it is the kind of book that tries to transmit insights, not knowledge, so maybe this style of writing is the right one for the message. But it is a management-related book.

        Each chapter, Berkin raises an issue, using a story to tell it. Several deductions are given by the author, but you can get other by your own. The different topics are:

        The myth of epiphany; We understand the history of innovation; There is a method for innovation; People love new ideas; The lone inventor; Good ideas are hard to find; Your boss knows more about innovation than you; The best ideas win; Problems and solutions; Innovation is always good; Epilogue: Beyond hype and history; Creating thinking hacks; How to pitch an idea; How to stay motivated; Research and recommendations.

        Each chapter is structured like a blog entry (on his way to make blog entries); but with more length and more work besides.

        I am not going to describe the message besides each chapter. I suppose that O'Reilly want for you to buy the book. ;) Anyway. I think that the message is mainly accurate, and that he talks about interesting points. It is a good entry point so "adult readings", like Cristiensen books, or Moore book.

        In its bad side, the book gives insights, not information. It is more a self-help book than a textbook or a technical book. It is not what you could find usually on O'Reilly. It is not a Chistrensen book. I think that here it is the main problem of the book: the people that uses to buy O'Reilly books knows what the book has to teach. The book is good for firm owners and middle managers; but they usually buy books for other editors more oriented to management books, and O'Reilly is not the first editor on their mind.

        Would I liked it? Yes. But it is not the kind of book that you read and forget about it. It is interesting to take notes when you read it, and review the book and the notes later. A second reading, several months later, can give you newer insight.

        Would I buy It? It strongly depends for the price tag; I knew the information that it contains.

        Would I recommend to buy it? If you have read Christiensen by yourself, no. The book is not going to teach you anything. But It is a really good book for any middle manager, or owner of a firm, that it is seriously worried about innovation. It is also a good book for a recently graduated student that has finished his grade studies.

        Written under O'Reilly blog review program.

         
        4.0

        Innovation is More Than Newton's Apple

        By tekchic

        from Phoenix, AZ

        About Me Bookworm

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Broad Appeal
        • Easy To Understand
        • Expert Author
        • Great Insights

        Cons

          Best Uses

            Comments about O'Reilly Media The Myths of Innovation:

            If you're tired of hearing the overused buzzword, "Innovation" bandied about the office too often, this book is worth the read. Scott Berkun discusses the different myths attributed to innovation through history, and why innovation itself is not the magical solution.

            One of the great myths about innovation is that it should take the form of some brilliant idea hitting you on the head much like Isaac Newton's Apple. Nope. Innovation comes from hard work, and there's no magic bullet. I like what Scott Berkun has to say on page 13: "No grand innovation in history has escaped the long hours required to take an insight and work it into a form useful to the world."

            If you enjoy history, this is also a fun book to read, as Berkun talks about innovations such as Archimedes slipping and falling in the tub (Eureka!), Picasso turning an old bicycle into a sculpture of a bull, and Johannes Gutenberg's invention of the printing press. We have a tendency to glamorize these innovators and put them on a pedestal of genius when in fact, it was years of labor, research, mistakes, and elbow grease that got them to that point of "epiphany."

            This book was interesting to me because I love the process of programming as well as what it takes when designing an interface. I might spend hours tweaking a web layout to be pixel perfect, and then at the end find a flourish that brings the mockup together. Sometimes I don't find that flourish at all. Linus Pauling says, "The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas." It's a concept that is reiterated in this book that making lots of mistakes, continuing to persevere, and challenging your own ideas will help you in the execution of your goal.

            I enjoyed this book mainly because of Scott's sense of humor injected into the book, bringing both historical achievements and current business ventures into a relevant, interesting read. This book demonstrates the importance of moving past the hype of "innovation" and discusses a plan of action in the epilogue that states, "Forget innovation: focus on being good." I recommend it for anyone who wants to better themselves or get motivated about a new project.

             
            4.0

            Where do we get those wonderful toys?

            By Rumblestrut

            from Lawrence, KS

            About Me Everyday Reader

            Verified Reviewer

            Pros

            • Deeply Informative
            • Great Insights
            • Well Written

            Cons

            • A little repetitive

            Best Uses

              Comments about O'Reilly Media The Myths of Innovation:

              Some of this you already know: Edison didn't invent the lightbulb, Jobs didn't invent the personal computer, and Ford didn't invent the automobile. But how did these products come to to the mainstream?

              Berkun points out there are actually many people involved in any product that makes it to market. There are the teachers, culture, and other influences that help foster an environment that can create an idea. There's the players needed to put an idea into motion, and even the individual purchasers, reviewers, media, etc., that – through their effort as a whole – help make or break a product or service, and determine if it becomes a notable contribution or a footnote in history.

              The Myths of Innovation is a good read. I've found it and its ideas presented coming up a lot recently in discussions with co-workers and friends.

              It really has made me think: if so many people, influences and actions are integral to success, patents and copyrights almost don't make any sense.

               
              4.0

              Demystifying Innovation

              By Ramanand

              from Pune, India

              About Me Bookworm

              Verified Reviewer

              Pros

              • Broad Appeal
              • Deeply Informative
              • Well Written

              Cons

                Best Uses

                • Older Readers
                • Reference

                Comments about O'Reilly Media The Myths of Innovation:

                In his writings, Scott Berkun makes a point of being strident in his views about management, public speaking, and thinking. Usually, books about innovation are vague and generic, but this book is hard-headed and practical.

                Berkun tackles long-held myths, including some counter-intuitive ones such as "Innovation is always good". The book is engaging (and well-referenced) with a variety of anecdotes and discussions, and there are no homilies.

                Towards the end, moving away from the negative tone, the book turns into a checklist of various suggestions, "hacks" of interest to the creative innovator. It's by no means comprehensive, but useful nevertheless. He also encloses an excellent bibliography.

                 
                4.0

                Good book

                By clarke ching

                from scotland

                Verified Reviewer

                Comments about O'Reilly Media The Myths of Innovation:

                Lately I've been reading Scott Burkun's book, The Myths of Innovation.

                http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1449389627/ref=cm_cr_thx_view

                I found it hard, when I first tried reading this book, to warm to it. The essay style didn't work for me. Perhaps I wasn't in the right frame of mind. Perhaps the thought of reading a whole bunch of essays didn't appeal. Who knows?

                It bothered me because the book reviews are excellent and I really enjoy Scott's blog.

                Then one day last week I opened the book at RANDOM - as much as your can in a Kindle - and started reading. Suddenly, I was enjoying the book. I've read quite a bit of the book this way now - flipping randomly about the place - and it's working for me. The book is full of brilliant observations and advice. The old photographs are fascinating too - especially the wooden mouse.

                 
                5.0

                Tearing Down The Myths of Innovation

                By Jerrin

                from Hyderabad, India

                About Me Bookworm

                Verified Reviewer

                Pros

                • Deeply Informative
                • Easy To Understand
                • Expert Author
                • Great Insights
                • Well Written

                Cons

                  Best Uses

                  • Gift
                  • Older Readers
                  • Younger Readers

                  Comments about O'Reilly Media The Myths of Innovation:

                  Since childhood, we've been force fed with false propaganda about creativity and innovation – Edison and his light bulb, Newton and the apple that fell on his head, Archimedes running naked through the streets of ancient Greece shouting Eureka. Now, imagine Pink Floyd playing in the background as Scott Berkun takes a sledgehammer at all that nonsense, starting with the myth of epiphany – the idea that innovation happens out of the blue if you just sit under an apple tree. That's what The Myths of Innovation is all about.

                  The best part of the book, however, starts with the epilogue which ends with a brief description of the 'simple plan' for innovation – stop thinking/dreaming/reading and start doing something, focus on solving the problem instead of trying to innovate for its own sake, build trust and be willing to stick your neck out for the team, keep the team small, celebrate interesting mistakes and keep going. And then there are the 'creative thinking hacks' starting with the mantra that 'an idea is a combination of other ideas' and the need to loose inhibitions, find the right environment and stay committed. This is followed up with a crash course on how to pitch your idea. And finally a list of things to help you stay motivated – anger, desperation, pride, death, fun or a crazy friend.

                   
                  3.0

                  Was Hoping For More

                  By lookjane

                  from Washington, DC

                  About Me Bookworm

                  Verified Reviewer

                  Pros

                  • Easy To Understand

                  Cons

                  • Shallow

                  Best Uses

                    Comments about O'Reilly Media The Myths of Innovation:

                    Myths of Innovation by Scott Berkun is a catalog of, well, myths about how people come up with innovative ideas or products. Each chapter covers a different myth, like the "myth of ephinany" (that innovative ideas come like lightning bolts out of the blue) or the myth of the "lone inventor." Berkun busts these myths and in the process explains what really does drive innovation.

                    I liked that the book is written in a witty, conversational style (and having gotten the book free through O'Reilly's Blogger review program I wanted to give a good review). But unfortunately I found it to be poorly argued. For example, Berkun writes, "And while we laugh at groups who reject innovation as a concept—the Luddites, the Amish, or our technophobic friends—we are all just as resistant as they are, but in different ways." Realy? I read this book on an iPhone, iPad and Sony Reader and I'm just as resistant to innovation as the Amish? I'm sorry Mr. Berkun, but you need to back that up with something. Unfortunately, the book is filled with tossed off conclusions that are not supported by data or argument. It took me a long time to finish this book because it kept driving me crazy.

                    (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                     
                    4.0

                    Innovation:a long way,not a moment

                    By Antonis Ventouris

                    from Athens, Greece

                    About Me Everyday Reader

                    Verified Reviewer

                    Pros

                    • Broad Appeal
                    • Deserves Multiple Readings
                    • Easy To Understand
                    • Great Insights
                    • Well Written

                    Cons

                      Best Uses

                      • Gift
                      • Travel Reading
                      • Younger Readers

                      Comments about O'Reilly Media The Myths of Innovation:

                      To be honest, I haven't read any other book from Berkun so far (though many people suggest Confessions of a Public Speaker), but it's more than likely I'll start from now on. And the reason is simple: after finishing the book I felt like the guy was in my head!

                      If you're looking for a book to tell you how to innovate, then you have missed half of this book's essence. Because there's not a single path to innovation (although you'll get your tips, I promise!) - that's something you learn from the first chapters. What this book is about is the life of an innovator, the challenges he has to face, the rejection of ideas, and the lonely path to making something new and ground - breaking. Making a trip through history and great inventors, Berkun defines innovation as a long way and not as a single moment. While innovating you'll fight, get rejected or even reach the bottom - and this book describes what to do in these cases. And even when you succeed, you have the innovator's dilemma - are you truly open - minded to accept a new thing that may turn your innovation useless?

                      I enjoyed reading this book, I really did. If you ask me, it's not going to help you innovate more - of course not. But, all in all, it helps you in creating an attitude towards innovation. I guess that, from now on, I'll treat innovation in a different way.

                      (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                       
                      5.0

                      Myths of Innovation by Scott Berkun

                      By Levon Lloyd

                      from Long Island, NY

                      About Me Bookworm

                      Pros

                      • Deeply Informative
                      • Deserves Multiple Readings
                      • Easy To Understand
                      • Expert Author
                      • Great Insights
                      • Well Written

                      Cons

                        Best Uses

                        • Gift
                        • Reference

                        Comments about O'Reilly Media The Myths of Innovation:

                        The Myths of Innovation is one of the most insightful books I've read in a while. It should be required reading for anyone who works for a technology start-up or manages engineers.

                        The first part of the book presents 10 popular myths of how innovation and invention happen. Through re-telling of many popular invention stories, the author discounts all of my least favorite myths, including that innovation happens through magical epiphanies, that great ideas are instantly adopted, and that the best ideas win. He does this through an easy to read, story-telling style. Plus, he manages to include plenty of references to boost the credability of his arguments. In the second part of the book, he gives some direction of those who think of themselves as innovators. These include some ways to help put yourself in a state of mind that will boost your creative thinking, how to stay motivated in the face of the many roadblocks that stand in the way of your potential innovation, and some tips on how to pitch your ideas, whether your audience is your boss, potential investors, or others. There are many pieces of advice/motivation in this last section that I will come back to in the years to come. The kicker is the last chapter, which gives a list of other references that the author recommends, as pieces of further advice and/or motivation for innovators. This will form the basis of my continued reading list.

                        Overall, I highly recommend this book to anyone that is either doing the innovation themself, or manages people who are innovating.

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