Keywords: Business, invention, technology

Title: The Myths Of Innovation

Author: Scott Berkun

Publisher: O'Reilly

ISBN: 0596527055


The fruits of innovation are often so unexpected and delightful, that it's natural for us to view the process itself as shrouded in magic and mystery. Still more, we readily accept that innovators and inventors are strange beings, blessed with obscure gifts that the rest of mere humanity cannot hope to comprehend. And so, before we know it, we succumb to the full range of myths of innovation that Scott Berkun seeks to dispel in this compact little book.

In all he looks at ten different myths, from the myth of epiphany (that Eureka! moment) to the myth of the lone genius to the misapprehension that the best ideas win out in the end. Berkun's chosen tools to explode these myths is to draw heavily on history to show both plenty of counter-examples, and also to illustrate the hidden stories behind those urban legends that we so often subscribe to (such as the idea that eBay was started in order to sell Pez dispensers).

Berkun writes in an engaging and humorous way, with plenty of interesting stories along the way. While there are no earth-shattering insights in the book, he certainly does a good job of tackling his target myths and shedding some light on the process of innovation. And, for those interested in becoming innovators or inventors, the bottom line is not good. The rate of success in the field is depressingly low, most innovations fail, because of timing, because of lack of support and plenty of other reasons that Berkun examines in some detail.

Though the book includes numerous references and a bibliography, this is not at all an academic treatise. However, it's an entertaining and thought-provoking read, ideal for that plane journey, stop-over or a just as a quick holiday read.

Contents © London Book Review 2007. Published July 31 2007