Monday, October 15, 2007

The Myths of Innovation, book by Scott Bekun

A new book about innovation and where great ideas do come from. Title: The Myths of Innovation, author: Scott Berkun. Here are some key thoughts Berkun brings to life:

1. “Despite the myths, innovations rarely involve someone working alone, and never in history has an invention been made without reusing ideas from the past. For all of our chronocentric glee, our newest ideas have historic roots: the term network is 500 years old, webs were around before the human race, and the algorithmic DNA is more elegant and powerful than any programming language. Wise innovators--driven by passion more than ego--initiate partnerships, collaborations, and humble studies of the past, raising their odds against the timeless challenges of innovation."

2. "Apple, like Edison, earned well-deserved credit for vastly improving existing ideas, refining them into excellent products, and developing them into businesses, but Apple did not invent the graphical user interface, the computer mouse, or the digital music player. Similarly, Google did not invent the search engine, and Nintendo did not invent the video game."

3. "The most useful way to think of epiphany is as an occasional bonus of working on tough problems. Most innovations come without epiphanies, and when powerful moments do happen, little knowledge is granted for how to find the next one. . .Nearly every major innovation of the 20th century took place without claims of epiphany."

4. "Study the history of any innovation--from catapults to telegraphs to laser beams and nanotechnology--and you'll find its invention and adoption is based on ordinary, selfish, and mostly short-term motivations. Mistakes and complexities are everywhere, rendering a straight line of progress as a kind of invention itself. . .Every technology arrived in the same chaos that we witness in our innovation today.”

5. "There is a huge gap between how an innovator sees the world and how others see the world. Howard Aiken, a famous inventor, said, 'Don't worry about people stealing an idea. If it's original, you will have to ram it down their throats.'"

6. "The love of new ideas is a myth: we prefer ideas only after others have tested them. We confuse truly new ideas with good ideas that have already been proven, which just happen to be new to us. The paradox is that the greater potential of an idea, the harder it is to find anyone willing to try it.”

7. "While there a lot to be said for raising bars and pushing envelopes, breakthroughs happen for societies when innovations diffuse, not when they remain forever "ahead of their time."

8. "The best lesson from the myths of Newton and Archimedes is to work passionately but to take breaks. Sitting under trees and relaxing in baths lets the mind wander and frees the subconscious to do work on our behalf. Freeman Dyson, a world-class physicist and author, agrees, "I think it's very important to be idle. . .people who keep themselves busy all the time are generally not creative. So I'm not ashamed of being idle. Some workaholic innovators tweak this by working on multiple projects at the same time, effectively using work on one project as a break from the other."

9. "The myth that the best idea wins is dangerous. The goodness or newness of an idea is only part of the system that determines if it will win or lose."

10. "The myth that leads to this idea-destroying behavior is that good ideas will look the part when found. The future never enters the present as a finished product, but that doesn't stop people from expecting it to arrive that way."

This summary was produced by Casey Kazan.

On our collective blog, we've been also discussing about creativity, I'd like to invite you to visit us there and let us know what you think

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