The Myths of Innovation

I can tell I’m reading a good book if, in the middle of it, I’m flooded with ideas and I have to resist the urge to put the book down and go make things happen. That happened numerous times reading The Myths of Innovation

Mr. Berkun walks you through stories from creative people and tries to find commonalities between them, and, as the title indicates, debunks common misconceptions about how innovation and creativity work.

At no point does Mr. Berkun give you a straightforward recipe for being innovative. Because there isn’t one. Instead he throws out a whole bunch of things to think about and you have to apply it to your circumstances.

The closest to recipes is a section on “Creative Thinking Hacks”, little shortcuts to get people thinking about problems in new ways. This was my favorite section.

My second favorite section was the bibliography. That’s another way to tell if you’ve just read a good book, if you finish it and immediately want to read more about the subject. This section gave me plenty more to investigate.

If there’s one thing I didn’t like, I thought the section on idea generation was pretty weak. He makes the point — which I agree with — that having a good idea is actually a very small part of the Innovation process. However, it’s still the first thing you have to get done before you can do anything. This section consisted mainly of a recap of a somewhat-obscure classic that I had trouble tracking down to read more on it.

Although as I mentioned above, the ideas seemed to come to me just reading about people coming up with ideas. Maybe I’m just making it too hard.

Overall, top-notch reading. There are no easy answers here because there are no easy answers anywhere. You have to find them; this book will get you started.

I give this book four and a half dog heads:

I suppose I need to find a new dog head to replace the late, lamented Toby’s head in reviews. But we don’t have a new dog and no other dog head seems right. Ave atque vale, Toby-doo!

One thought on “The Myths of Innovation

  1. Thanks for the review, and for posting it on Amazon. That helps us authors. Cheers.

    >If there’s one thing I didn’t like, I thought the section on
    > idea generation was pretty weak

    I added the chapter “Creative Thinking Hacks” for the paperback edition for this reason. Given the balance of the book was broad and comprehensive, it was hard to do more than a single additional chapter on idea generation. It really deserves to be its own book, and of course there are many good books on idea generation already out there (many of them listed in the bibliography).

    I recently gave a talk about Creativity Hacks that’s different from the chapter. You can watch it here:

    Let me know what you think.

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