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Book Reviews Books Media

The Myths of Innovation 103

Posted by samzenpus
from the 90%-perspiration dept.
cgjherr writes "Ah, the technology history book, normally I'm not a fan. The writing is aloof and dry. The topics are vague, the history misinterpreted, and the lessons presented too vague to be applicable. And don't get me started on the illustrations, which are all too often pyramids with the authors perched at the top looking down on the lowly reader at the base. Thankfully, this book, "the myths of innovation" breaks all of these rules. It's an engaging, fun and quick read. The history is interesting, and the lessons presented are practical. I particularly like the author's tone. It's witty and light. Which makes this a very fast read, one that leaves you wanting even more by the end." Read below for the rest of Jack's review.
The Myths of Innovation
author Scott Berkun
pages 176
publisher O'Reilly
rating Excellent
reviewer Jack Herrington
ISBN 0596527055
summary The history of innovation with lessons learned
The myths of innovation is about how innovation happens in the real world in companies, universities and garages around the company. The first two chapters really draw the reader in by showing the twin fallacies of the epiphany moment and the historically clean line of innovation. Learning that innovation doesn't just come as a flash, and that lots of successes have come out of copious failure encourages us to try to innovate, and to keep trying even when we believe we have failed.

This short book (147 pages of content) is presented in ten short chapters. The first two show you how anyone can be an innovator. You can think of those as the debunking chapters. The third chapter is where the author starts helping you to build some techniques to innovate. He presents how there are some reasonable methods to spur innovation and shows examples from Apple, Google, Edison, Craiglist and more.

In chapter four he shows how to overcome peoples fears of innovation and overcome the common problems with the adoption of new technologies. Chapter five, "the lone innovator", debunks the legend of, well, the lone innovator. It sounds good, and plays into our noble story of the hero, but it's not common in reality. Chapter six talks about ideas and surveys where innovators have found the ideas that they start out with. Of course, where you start is often not where you end but that's ok, since innovation is a lot more about failure than it is about success.

Chapter seven covers something I think most of us can relate to, which is that managers aren't often the innovators. Chapter eight talks about how we believe that the "best ideas always win" but that's least often the case. This sounds pessimistic, but it's actually an interesting study in how the biggest product with the most feature isn't always the best for the customer. Chapter nine, "problems and solutions", talks about framing problems to constrain the creativity and innovation. The final chapter, "innovation is always good", is at the same time the most amusing and disturbing. It covers innovations from the automobile to DDT and presents that innovation, no matter what, is always good. Agree or disagree the points are well presented.

As I say I really enjoyed this book. It's an easy read that is hard to put down. What's more it's really motivating. After reading this book you will want to dig right back into those crazy ideas lurking around in the back of your mind and give them another shot. With this book, you will have a few more tools at your disposal to turn your ideas into reality.


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The Myths of Innovation

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @02:15PM (#19242841)
    Dear PC users

    It's no secret iTunes turned to shit as soon as Apple had to start catering to PC users. It was version 4.1, if memory serves, around the time they let you cavedwellers into our music store. The demand for PC compatibility is the major reason iTunes is still a Carbon app, according to insiders, when every other iApp has since been rewritten in Cocoa to behave like a decent Mac application.

    Frankly, we think Apple should revoke PC compatibility from the iPod. Only when the last PC user is forced from our platform shall we enjoy freedom, again and at last, from your tasteless, backwards demands.

    Love,
    Mac users
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @02:20PM (#19242909)

    After reading this book you will want to dig right back into those crazy ideas lurking around in the back of your mind and give them another shot.

    No, I won't. Remember...

    Chapter five, "the lone innovator", debunks the legend of, well, the lone innovator. It sounds good, and plays into our noble story of the hero, but it's not common in reality.
    ...and...

    Chapter eight talks about how we believe that the "best ideas always win" but that's least often the case.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @02:26PM (#19242999)
    The execution of an invention might be done in the group, but the innovation is ALWAYS A SINGLE IDEA IN A SINGLE PERSON. For all the big inventions in big companies, they're is always a single person with the idea, and a bunch of managers claiming credit for it.

  • by w.p.richardson (218394) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @02:27PM (#19243023) Homepage
    the best ideas come from senior managers. You just have to make them think they came up with it.
  • Sound's fab (Score:3, Funny)

    by nagora (177841) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @02:32PM (#19243087)
    It's witty and light. Which makes this a very fast read, one that leaves you wanting even more by the end

    So basically it's like something someone told you quickly at the pub and you'll want to buy a decent book to find out anything substantial? Might give that a miss.

    TWW

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @02:36PM (#19243143)
    Dear Mac users,

    Do you think we actually give a shit about you? The sex appeal of your raving fanboyism simply doesn't hold a candle to our marketing and design teams.

    Basically, we're not worried about losing you as customers any time soon. It's good to know you actually bought some of our DRM'ed music though. We thought only the Windows idiots would fall for that.

    Love,
    Steve
  • by popo (107611) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @02:45PM (#19243283) Homepage

    Ah, the Slashdot review. Normally it is well written. The first sentence isn't misleading. The reviewer gets straight to the point. There is no confusing turnabout within the first paragraph. But this is not that review.

  • by Gulthek (12570) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @02:50PM (#19243355) Homepage Journal

    I truly believe inventors or true innovators are not made but born. Anyone can learn to do something but only people with a knack or talent will do it well.

    Beliefs like that lead one down the road of mediocrity.

    Sometimes, that's exactly where one should go!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @03:15PM (#19243805)
    You're point is valid. Also, there are to many errors in grammar two be acceptable on Slashdot. The reviewer should study there English harder.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, 2007 @12:50AM (#19249021)

    If the customer says 'nice but I'd like to to do foo' then aren't they the innovator if your defining incremental feedback loops as innovation? I mean all credit the company for the execution, but they're simply filling a demand the customer wanted!

    I can really see people answering surveys like "well, I don't care at all for games, but I would if the controller could be held in a single hand and I could just mimic the desired actions instead of pressing random buttons".

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