The Myths of Innovation

The Myths of Innovation

Book - 2007
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Ingram Book Company
Former Microsoft manager and bestselling author Berkun takes a careful look at the history of innovation, including the recent years of the software and Internet age, to reveal that what the public knows about innovation is wrong.

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Berkun details myths about innovation, such as the fact that Isaac Newton was never hit by an apple, and uses them to show how originality occurs. Each chapter examines one myth and why it is popular, debunking it and teaching about the concept of innovation. It covers business, scientific, and technological advances, the myths of epiphany and the lone inventor, what drives innovation, finding good ideas, managing issues, and working with problems. Berkun is an author who teaches creative thinking at the U. of Washington. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Ingram Publishing Services

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,, 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: and tweets at @berkun.

Former Microsoft manager and bestselling author Berkun takes a careful look at the history of innovation, including the recent years of the software and Internet age, to reveal that what the public knows about innovation is wrong.

Publisher: Beijing ; Sebastopol, CA : O'Reilly, c2007
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780596527051
Characteristics: xiii, 176 p. : ill. ; 23 cm


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Aug 12, 2012

This guy is pretty savvy, and definitely has a handle on the culture of ideas. Clear, concise book, with many interesting anecdotes and footnotes. Very good bibliography; there are a few I will be adding to my reading list. Recommended!

May 02, 2011

An excellent quick read for those interested in the truth & nature of innovation.

Things are what they seem, or so they say.....

Scott Berkrun does an excellent job in listing, describing and dissecting common myths of innovation.

You'll walk away from this book having a better understanding of the innovation process.

A good read!


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