‘the myths of innovation’

It is hard to avoid contact with the term ’innovation’ these days. Most of us probably have some basic perception of what it means to innovate and to some degree also which factors are good innovation fertilisers. Without new ideas and ways of running a business, an organization will quickly get sidetracked or left behind in our evermore demanding, and increasingly smaller, global world.

Scott Berkun has taken one more step in his quest to fill a bookshelf with his own books by writing ‘the myths of innovation’. It is rather short, less than 150 pages (not including appendix and such). In ten chapters Berkun access common myths about innovation. Being myths, the author seeks to rebuke them one by one, some of these are:

  • The myth of epiphany
  • The myth of an open mind towards new ideas
  • The myth of the lone inventor
  • The myth of the insightful boss
  • The myth of best ideas

The basic message of the book, as I read it, is that we must accept and embrace the fact that innovation rarely happens instantly. But that it instead takes time, lots of hard work and typically collaboration between knowledgeable peers.

Furthermore, when we identify a brilliant idea, realising it is both more troublesome and considerably costlier than our myth related expectations. Conservatism blocks innovation and overcoming its barriers requires endurance and courage.

Besides deflating innovation myths, Berkun also provide pointers to the seeds of innovation with which we gain an understanding of the different motivational backgrounds that drives innovation.

I would recommend this book for anyone who craves an alternative, and somewhat lighter, approach to the concept of innovation. Berkun provides several historical examples, and shows how the myths of innovation have shaped our present understanding of these. The book doesn’t tell you how to lead an organization to become market leading, but it does help you to understand the road bumps your bright idea will face on its path to realization and eventually…glory.