Sunday, August 12, 2012

Book Review : The Myths of innovation by Scott berkun


I got an opportunity to read the book 'The Myths of Innovation' from the O'reilly's blogger review program.

The book tried to answer the question, Why work hard.
It says that you may not be recognized as the innovator or brilliant mind in your time but there are chances that you will be recognized and the product you are working on will become the innovation of the decade.

This book has many similarity to book written by Malcolm Gladwell, The Outliers.  The book has many references to the Outliers book and also quotes the 10,000 hours theory in the later chapters.  As I have already read the book Outliers the subject which was handled by this book was not new and was more interesting for me as an after thought for Outliers, like what happens due to the innovations put forward by the outliers.  Just like the premise of the book Outliers, this book also suggests that the innovations were not just because of unique geniuses but they were backed by the environment they were developed in

This book takes a practical approach to learn the history of innovation from some examples and clearly mentions that:
Quote from p40, "The majority of innovations come from dedicated people in a field working hard to solve a well-defined problem. It’s not sexy, and it won’t be in any major motion pictures anytime soon, but it’s the truth."

Scott motivates the reader to learn the history of innovation and to learn how to start in the mystic world of innovation rightly pointing the fact that, quote, p54, "Einstein’s E=mc2, Galileo’s sun-centered solar system, and Darwin’s theory of evolution were laughed at for years by experts around the world." p58, "Experienced innovators anticipate these criticisms."

On p59, Scott says, "Many innovators give up when they learn ideas—even with dazzling prototypes or plans in hand—are only the beginning." which I felt is not logical because if someone gave up on idea no one knew that there was an innovation in making and hence there is no way of knowing this to write this sentence.  This sentence shall be mentioned as an assumption.

I was not aware of so many dimensions of the theory of innovation.  This book takes a multidimensional approach to explore the world of innovations.  On p61, it says "innovative ideas are rarely rejected on their merits; they’re rejected because of how they make people feel. If you forget people’s concerns and feelings when you present an innovation, or neglect to understand their perspectives in your design, you’re setting yourself up to fail."

Page 61, mentions the "Innovator’s dilemma" which is interestingly explained with example of Alexander Graham Bell and Western Union.  The book has many references to other books which makes the reader create a list of all books to read or explore after this book.  The apt mentions of web page and reference links is also a good resource for further reading.

The book mentions some successful companies repeatedly like p62, "Companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft, HP, and Yahoo! started as small groups who dismissed the well-worn path of convincing others and chose instead to realize ideas on their own. These start-up ventures were born out of the frustration of failing to make innovation happen in larger, established businesses. Had the founders of these companies found positive responses from corporations, history might be different."

Rectangular poster on page90, "Idea Killers" is very  good to go through often and to make a permanent note for working people.

On page 93, The book explains in details the definition of brainstorming which is very interesting.
Alex F. Osborn, in book Applied Imagination, says you have three things: facts, ideas, and solutions and you need to spend quality time with each individually.

Scott consistently states with many examples like on page 136, "Truth about Serendipity" that innovation is an effort of many hours of effort and due contributions from many factors.  quote from book, "Spencer spent the next 10 years developing this chance encounter into one of the most-used appliances in the world."

Page 150, Makes us aware of ills or disadvantages of innovations.  They can be taken as alerts for planning ahead of mass execution of innovative ideas.

On page 154, towards the end of the book, Scott writes that, "This book will provide a baseline of truth to free you from the misguided yet common notions around innovation that run rampant in business and popular culture today, to prevent you from aiming at false targets because there is so much hype around creativity today that the simple truths get lost in the noise."

The major take away from the book includes:
Page 163, The simple plan
To connect many of these threads and others found earlier in the book, here is what I call the simple plan. If you picked up this book because you want to not only find ideas but bring them to reality, this is for you.

Chapter 13, How to pitch an idea and Chapter 14, How to stay motivated

The overall effect of this book is positive and has raised my energy level.  I am highly motivated to run my projects with new zeal and commitment after reading this book. 

with regards
Tushar Joshi, Nagpur

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