Innovation has to be one of the most overused words in the modern cultural lexicon. It is sought ardently where it cannot be found,ascribed where not apropos and most definitely widely misunderstood. The free and loose way we have with this word and all that it stands for piqued my curiosity about Scott Berkun's book The Myths of Innovation.
Berkun does his readers a big favor early in the book, by disabusing them of the idea of the moment of epiphany which causes innovation to supposedly happen.There is no Eureka or falling apple instant that turns someone into an Archimedes or a Newton. Instead, Berkun argues there is a method and discipline to the business of innovation. It is not happenstance, but the result of many years of hard work and persistence with ideas that very few believe in, coming to fruition in unexpected ways.
One of the magic recipes for innovation, Berkun says :
Hard work in a specific direction - 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.
On the kind of mental discipline it takes to to innovate, he says :
The secret to balancing work and play is thinking of the mind as a filter. Instead of binary switches—open vs. closed, creative vs. routine—we need a sliding scale of openness we can control. If you want new ideas, you have to slide toward openness, turning some filters off, exploring thoughts you’d ordinarily reject offhand.
My favorite part of the book is where Berkun outlines a simple plan to turn the promise of innovation to reality. I would recommend The Myths of Innovation to anyone who is curious about the the history and current state of innovation. The many practical ideas on how to innovate in the real world, are a bonus.