Review – Myths of Innovation

You are not used to me writing in english in this book, so far it is a blog in spanish. Anyway, this post will be in english – so far english is a must today, you should be able to read it. ;)

O’Reilly has an interesting program on book review, and I register on it . I had to make a review of The Myths of Innovation, a book by Scott Berkun. The review must be in english. And here is my review.

I usually read Berkin’s blog, and I am pretty familiarized with his ideas. And Innovation is a hot topic now; so I thought that the book would be interesting.

The book is well written, it is easy to understand, and well organized. The type fonts are big and clear (this should be a must; but unfortunately, It is not. I am pretty tired of unreadable and baldy formatted books).

The style of the book is the same that you can read in Berkin’s blog, and in lots of books: storytelling. He tells a story to you, and from the story he takes conclusions. That makes a book that it is easy and fast to read. The writing style is not technical, nor academical; it is more a “self-help management book” style. This have a good side (easy to read for non-technical people) and a bad side: you get the impression that a 200-page book could be a 75-page book with the same amount of information. The book can be resumed with a single phrase “Innovation needs work and commitment”. But with examples and trying to be convincing.

Anyway, it is the kind of book that tries to transmit insights, not knowledge, so maybe this style of writing is the right one for the message. But it is a management-related book.

Each chapter, Berkin raises an issue, using a story to tell it. Several deductions are given by the author, but you can get other by your own. The different topics are:

The myth of epiphany; We understand the history of innovation; There is a method for innovation; People love new ideas; The lone inventor; Good ideas are hard to find; Your boss knows more about innovation than you; The best ideas win; Problems and solutions; Innovation is always good; Epilogue: Beyond hype and history; Creating thinking hacks; How to pitch an idea; How to stay motivated; Research and recommendations.

Each chapter is structured like a blog entry (on his way to make blog entries); but with more length and more work besides.

I am not going to describe the message besides each chapter. I suppose that O’Reilly want for you to buy the book. ;) Anyway. I think that the message is mainly accurate, and that he talks about interesting points. It is a good entry point to “adult readings”, like Cristiensen books, or Moore book.

In its bad side, the book gives insights, not information. It is more a self-help book than a textbook or a technical book. It is not what you could find usually on O’Reilly. It is not a Chistrensen book. I think that here is the main problem of the book: the people that uses to buy O’Reilly books expect to find books that teach knowledge, not books that gives insights. The book is good for firm owners and middle managers; but they usually buy books for other editors more oriented to management books, and O’Reilly is not the first editor on their mind.

Would I liked it? Yes. But it is not the kind of book that you read and forget about it. It is interesting to take notes when you read it, and review the book and the notes later. A second reading, several months later, can give you newer insight.

Would I buy It? It strongly depends for the price tag; I knew the information that it contains. Anyway, it is quite interesting, and good to read.

Would I recommend to buy it? If you have read Christiensen by yourself, no. The book is not going to teach you anything. But It is a really good book for any middle manager, or owner of a firm, that it is seriously worried about innovation. It is also a good book for a recently graduated student that has finished his grade studies.

The product page at O’Reilly can be found here.