Thursday, July 14, 2011

Book Review: The Myths of Innovation

The Myths of Innovation, by Scott Berkun, is an interesting read. In this book he argues that the word innovation is overused, and that true innovation is a hard thing. He provides examples of true innovators, (Ford, Edison, Jobs, Brin and Paige) and explains how we build myths around the men.

I really enjoyed Berkun's take on the term innovation. He does a wonderful job of persuading the reader that innovation isn't just something that you do on a daily basis, but that it's more of a process. I found his arguments compelling. There were many thought provoking points, and I think my favorite was "Creativity has more to do with being fearless than intelligent or any other adjective superficially associated with it." His arguments and examples helped me to sort of "meta-think", or think about the ways that people think about the world. I think the most eye-opening parts of the book are when he tries to shed the aura of mystique from around the innovators of the past and the present. One of the points he made is that there's no magic moment of innovation - as humans we just build up the idea that there was one magic moment when Bell invented the telephone, or Newton discovered gravity, or Copernicus developed his heliocentric theory.

I think that anyone who has ideas should read this book. If you want to invent something, or be the next Mark Zuckerberg, then you should read the Myths of Innovation. If you are a knowledge worker (programmer, artist, etc. - or if you just want to be one), you should read this book. The Myths of Innovation was a good read, and helps pull mythic figures of the past off their pedestals.

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