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What's On the Bookshelf: The Myths of Innovation by Scott Berkun, A Review by Jason Bryant

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June 01, 2013
What to Read
Jason Bryant

Over the years, we’ve had numerous conversations with industry leaders and oftentimes one of the topics that comes up is what was the last book you read.  We thought it would be fun to share some of these booklover conversations with our readers. Here are what a few in our industry are reading: (and looks like there is one very popular book out there)

The word, idea or process referred to as “innovation” has become so overused in mass media and marketing materials that it has become diluted and has lost any real consistent definition or understanding. I recently saw some statistics that last year the word innovation was used almost 35,000 times in annual reports of public companies and that during a 90-day period last year, 255 books were published that included the word innovation in the title. 

The Myths of Innovation is an easy, entertaining read, full of real world examples. It includes plenty of advice to guide those who strive to truly innovate in any field or industry. 

As an entrepreneur I’ve spent the better part of my professional life attempting to innovate either a product, business model or process and have read and have done extensive research on innovation. Berkun’s book is a great primer on the how and what of “innovation”. Each chapter in Berkun’s book point at one of the myths surrounding innovation and provides insight, historical examples, comments and facts that help to dispel the illusions. Berkun covers the myth of epiphany, history of innovation, method for innovation, the myth that people love new ideas and the lone inventor.

A fundamental message throughout is that we are brought up with the notion that great ideas and success stories happen in a flash of genius. Berkun supports his position with many examples that innovation rarely appears without tremendous work and patience behind the scenes. Additionally, persistence is a highly valuable virtue that Berkun highlights, recognizing the myth that people love new ideas, while in fact it is generally the opposite. Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone was turned down by Western Union while Google’s page rank ideas were turned down by Yahoo! and AltaVista. Even George Lucas’ screenplay for Star Wars was turned down by every Hollywood studio but one. New ideas come with great risk, and innovators have to be persistent in the face of many obstacles to get the rest of the world on board. Being a skilled manager, marketer and evangelist is often the difference between an innovation seeing the light of day or being shelved.

The latest edition of this book includes a condensed creativity course and guidance on how to pitch an idea and stay motivated.

When deciding to read a business related book I often attempt to calculate my return on my investment of time and answer the question “Will I get at least one usable idea or concept from the few hours I will invest reading this?” I not only received numerous ideas but also have a much clearer idea of what it takes to be innovative. The Myths of Innovation was an extremely good investment of time.
[Review by Jason Bryant, Nor1]

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