REVIEW: "The Myths of Innovation", Scott Berkun
- BKMYTHIN.RVW 20071103
"The Myths of Innovation", Scott Berkun, 2007, 0-596-52705-5,
%A Scott Berkun www.scottberkun.com
%C 103 Morris Street, Suite A, Sebastopol, CA 95472
%G 0-596-52705-5 978-0-596-52705-1
%I O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
%O U$24.99/C$32.99 800-998-9938 fax: 707-829-0104 nuts@...
%O Audience n- Tech 1 Writing 2 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
%P 176 p.
%T "The Myths of Innovation"
Berkun states, in the preface, that the intent of the book is to note
popularly held myths about innovation, and then to examine, with
historical examples, the realities. There is, however, no implication
that there are to be suggestions about what to do in terms of aiding
innovation: this work is about avoiding mistakes, and doesn't address
the "how to."
Chapter one scrutinizes the concept of the epiphany: sudden revelation
or insight. The author starts with an example of Google (not
Microsoft?) as a company believed to foster such idea creation, but
then basically denigrates the perception. Examples of mythical
epiphanies that are known not to have happened are retailed, and there
is an emphasis on the primacy of hard work and preparation, as well as
some stress on the fineness of the line separating "creative" from
"crazy." There is an incomplete and poorly structured look at
historical novelties in chapter two. Chapter three says that there is
no procedure for driving or producing innovation. The innate, and
evolutionarily driven, conservatism of the human species is used, in
chapter four, to prove that people don't like new ideas. Berkun
appears almost to attempt to establish that nothing was ever invented
by the legendary "lone inventor" as he examines that notion in chapter
five. Chapter six notes that people think that the birth of new
thoughts is a rare occurrence, but mostly talks about how to ensure
that they are stillborn. Chapter seven essentially repeats chapter
three: if there is no method for producing ideas, then of course there
is no way to manage the process. Examples of cases where the
invisible hand of the market did not choose the best alternative are
given in chapter eight. Chapter nine doesn't really deal with any
myths in regard to innovation, the stories told just point out the
importance of limited ambition. New ideas don't bring unalloyed
benefits, says chapter ten.
Berkun writes entertainingly, but his points are as one-sided as the
myths he tries to destroy. The ideas presented are important, but
hardly new. And, since he is determined to observe but not to
recommend, it is hard to say how helpful this is going to be to
anyone. But it is fun.
copyright Robert M. Slade, 2007 BKMYTHIN.RVW 20071103
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