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VINE VOICEon 28 June 2007
I really enjoyed this book. Scott has a great writing style - friendly and informative, well suited to the task in hand. What could have been a dull history of innovation has been turned into a short, punchy work. He manages to pack a great deal into the 192 pages; examples of how innovation works, where innovation comes from, and debunks several popular myths of innovation, pointing out that whilst there is a 'eureka' moment, there's a whole lot of hard work which lead up to it in the first place.

I read this book on a train journey, and found myself picking back through it on the return journey. It's jam-packed with interesting anecdotes and information. Inspirational too - it put the idea of writing and where ideas come from in a new light.

Recommended reading. Top stuff.
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on 17 October 2011
I have read The Myths of Innnovation twice. The first time around I wasn't especially enamored with this book. It felt too lightweight in it's structure and the language felt too comfortable. It was easy to read, and as such, it didn't feel like most of the books out there discussing the dreaded "I" word, Innovation.

I then realized I'd made a number of significant and interesting notes and decided to re-read the book. I actually really enjoyed it the second time around. I guess my expectations were that the book would be a scientific heavyweight (not sure where that expectation came from though).

The main concept in the book is along the lines of "Do cool work, accept that ideas come from other ideas and if the timings right, cool things will happen". And throughout the book that message is re-enforced with good examples and stories.

There was a point in the middle where I started to lose focus somewhat, but the examples brought me back in and it felt good to have finished the book. Scott picked some really well known innovations to tell a story about how ideas come about, all of which revolved around the concept that no idea is brand new. All ideas come from other ideas. All Innovations can be broken down and traced back to several other ideas.

Scott also suggests that many ideas are beyond our control and exist outside of us. Scott also talks about how ideas and innovations gain traction in society and culture. He makes a point of suggesting Myths and marketing spin are more effective at promotion than education, something which we clearly see in many products and services.

He makes some very interesting points about Historians being able to tell a story deciding which facts to include and which ones to leave out. A great element of story telling. Scott is also clear that history always contains a viewpoint and interpretation.

I enjoyed the book and it's easy style makes it very accessible and readable. I think anyone who is interested in ideas creation; creativity and where ideas come from would enjoy this book. As too would anyone interested in marketing or entrepreneurship. It's got them all covered. Although it won't give you concrete advice it will sow some interesting seeds of thought in your mind.
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on 25 August 2011
I first came across Scott Berkun's work when Joel Spolsky recommended Making Things Happen, Scott's excellent book on project management. I continued my adventure through Berkun's back catalogue with Confessions of a Public Speaker which I found very enlightening. I have now read his latest published work: The Myths of Innovation, published by O'Reilly Media.

This book attempts to discredit the numerous inaccurate ideas about innovation that are both written about in other books, and commonly held beliefs in the wider public. He shows that innovation is not a formulaic concept that can be copied at will, nor something that just happens when you decide you want to be "innovative". It is also rarely the case that a "lone inventor" beats the odds to produce a world-beating product.

One of the other major myths that he dispels is that of the "eureka moment" - the sudden spark that resulting in a complete idea overnight. Instead, most innovations are the result of many years of hard work on improving and productising ideas that may have first seemed like irrelevances. The myth of snap innovation continues to be perpetuated because these ideas are often revealed to the world as a complete concept, without showing the hard work that has been done behind the scenes to get there.

Berkun looks at what kinds of corporate environments produce the seed ideas that are required at the start of this process, as well as allowing those ideas to incubate over the course of many years to reach a successful conclusion. He looks at examples of companies that have made extremely successful businesses out of this type of innovation (e.g. 3M, Google) to see what they do differently from those companies that merely pay lip-service to innovation in their mission statement.

Finally, Scott takes us through some ideas around how to think creatively, how to get your ideas noticed and keeping yourself motivated throughout a process that might last a lot longer than you expect.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I read it over the course of a few days on my Kindle on my commute to and from work and found myself eager to get on to the train so that I could continue reading. If you have a role where you need to come up with ideas in any capacity, this book will give you a real insight in to the best ways to do that. Even if you don't have a job that requires you to produce structured innovation right now, I still recommend this book to you as it will help you to see where you can innovate regardless, both at work and in your home life.

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on 4 September 2011
This book is just horrible - sorry. It has nothing to do with innovation. It's an endless collection of dull paragraphs, without any attempt to chisel out underlying patterns from masses of facts. If you are around 10, the book is ok. The rest of us will get further quicker by writing less, fussing less and observing Nature more.
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on 18 February 2011
In the knowledge economy, Innovation represents the Holy Grail : the undisputed source of wealth, pride and prestige. It is one of the most respected and worshiped word in corporate vocabulary. Yet you can hardly find organisations that share a same definition, let alone have a clear plan to manage it. The reason is : we are misguided by common misconception that run rampant in business and popular culture (Berkun).

With The Myths of innovation, his second book, Scott Berkun aims to clarify the topic : he is merciless with wishful thinking using his ruthless wit and encyclopaedic culture on the subject.

This paperback re-edition is a revised version of the original 2007 edition including four new (and amazing) chapters. As usual with Scott, this is a fantastic read, filled with conviction, great ideas, provocative thoughts, common sense and unexpected bursts of humour. The telling stories, the usability of the advises, the hindsight and wisdom of conclusions and the Occam Razor approach of Scott brings bucket loads of value to the reader.

Julian Casabianca`s 8th Phrase for the Young is Unlocking life mysteries is the responsibility of dissatisfied people. Scott must be a hell of a dissatisfied guy.
Don't get me wrong : you won't find any bitterness, jealousy or envy in his writing. The dissatisfaction acts as a fuel, a positive energy leading his writings towards the Truth. The allegoric one. The one that innervates all his best sellers and blog posts. This obsession with truth is the mark of great writers as Nabokov said about the work of Tolstoi.

The tool set for this unlocking operation is books. This is one of the reasons why Scott is such a great writer : he is a great reader in the first place. The bibliography is quite impressive and every statement, claim, position, idea in the book is thoroughly documented, balanced and has patently required substantial research work. This confers a great authority to his essays.

Another reason of the great energy and conviction of Scott writings is that he scratches his own itches : he focusses on these mysteries that immediately surround him.

Scott used to be Project Manager at Microsoft on the Internet Explorer projet: Management and Innovation are logically the main subjects of his first two essays. Making Things Happen (initially published under the name The Art Of Project Management - Scott being a doer he puts a verb in the title the second time around) aimed to frame management tasks and responsibilities in a simple framework. He tackles innovation in this book.

Being now a writer and speaker he wrote about public speaking in his third best-seller : Confessions of a Public Speaker.

Whenever M. Berkun addresses an issue he really does so thoroughly. Again, the bibliography and the volume of ideas discussed here is quite impressive : history, creativity, business innovation, entrepreneurship, myths and mythologies all subjects are fed with serious research. This is a proof that Scott walks the talk and invests a considerable amount of effort to expose his ideas to the world.

In Making Things Happen he points out relentlessness as one of the principle quality of managers. In Myths Of Innovations, he identifies perseverance as one of the main difference between innovation that succeed and the one that fails. Just as 37Signals wrote, there is no shortcuts and overnight success take years. Not surprisingly, Epiphany happens to be the first myth cut down to pieces by our MythBuster.

This effort does not only encompass the research but also the actual writing : clear, intelligent and yet simple and funny. As ususal , humour comes in bursts of unexpected flashes : the rabid zombie rottweiler, the smelly Rupert table of contents or patients refusing from being cured from cancer because the proposed cure is not innovative are hilarious. This contributes to make the read a real treat.

In terms of management, according to Scott, there are 2 main prerequisites for innovation to happen : trust and the will to take some risks. The Myths of Innovation argues that a vast majority of teams are dysfunctional : there is no trust in these teams. As a result, ideas can't float freely between people. Since innovation is more often than not an association of ideas, people not able to voice freely their ideas can not exchange them.

The second point is the fact that most managers are conservative and risk adverse. Therefore they are not willing to cover risky ideas which is necessary to foster innovation.
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on 21 June 2012
I'm a kind of innovative guy so new approaches fits me very well. In this book I've found things I already felt and sensed many times before very well described, truth revealing and inspiring. An interesting read it was.
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on 26 July 2011
Scott takes you in a journey over the ideas you probably well known but was not aware of details. He goes though the history of innovation,
shows us some interesting examples and provides with entertainment. I lack better proven, well formed references thou - especially when it comes to Philosophy - I think Scott's analogies are to shallow in few places. On the other hand, this book should entertain you - it's obvious you will not get an answer how to create good idea. One of my teachers told us a joke once - how to build financial empire? Well it's simple, create popular product and logo - like Coca-Cola - and you are set. That's more or less the book is about. It shows how great inventions were created, how they were born and brought to us by inventors who were quite often rejected by others. Descrates wrote once: "it is necessary to reject everything that raises doubts in order to left only pure truth". I think, this idea remains somewhere in the background throughout all the book. If you really want to be outstanding person, you can't think like others do - you have to reject what you have been told, and do your things. Then, with little luck, you might become real inventor.
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on 13 December 2010
Amusing, captivating, inspiring and motivational - those would be the words I'd use to describe the book for anyone asking.

The book is so well rounded that I couldn't complain of any of it's chapters. While I skimmed the chapters: How to pitch an idea and How to stay motivated; I can say that all the other chapters are packed with interesting ideas, side stories and "busted" myths.

Another aspect I liked very much in the book was the very precise way the information was collected and referenced. Basically you could take any chapter, look out some reference and expand your knowledge on the given subject. Go further than the book offers, because that is the means of innovation.

There is no Eureka, falling apple or instant success. It's all years of hard work, and the book is there to higher your morale, make you feel good about the change you can make.

A great book for any person open enough to innovation. That is the single criteria the author deems, the rest is irrelevant because (as to my surprise) the book is not technical.
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on 11 December 2010
I will try not to be rude to the author in this review: but I was left wondering who, exactly, the audience is expected to be? Is there really anyone out there who does not already know most of the review stuff from their basic education? Say, by ten years old?

It has (in my opinion) the most fundamentally-flawed analysis of just about every topic it touches. I continuously asked myself, while forcing myself through yet another paragraph, 'what exactly is this author's area of expertise?' I was left without the vaguest idea (getting advances?).

The only good question in this book - "Where do ideas come from?" - remains unanswered. It's not an original question, either - my wife asked (and answered) it back in the '60's.

Don't buy it. If you doubt me, then check it in a library before buying it. Personally speaking - I would like my money back. I hope his other books are better.

Look out for a book called 'Educating Intuition' if you want something useful that goes to answering the question: but it's out of print.
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on 6 June 2007
In the Myths of innovation Scott Berkun analysis the what works and doesn't work in creating innovative products.

He looks at the Myths that surround innovation and breaks the process down to a pragmatic guide to creating the space to be a more productive innovator. Written in a relaxed style you'll plough though the book in no time at all, and come away inspired.

Anyone who want to go further in software/product/web design should read this book.

Also, don't forget to read the Colophon as with all of Scott's writing it's a treat.
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