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The Myths of Innovation by Scott Berkun

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Chapter 3. There is a method for innovation

By definition innovation is a charge into the unknown.

—Unknown

Every Tuesday morning, Mr. K., my chemistry teacher, stumbled into the high school science lab, unlocked the chemistry cabinet, and built the most destructive science experiments known to man. He would repeat these pyrotechnic feats, ignoring scorched desks and terrified students, until he passed out or ran out of ammunition. After demanding that we replicate his chemical prowess, he'd storm out of the room, rarely seen until the following week. I haven't lost my fear of Bunsen burners and glass vials, but I remember one concept important to all innovative pursuits that those experiments etched into my mind: methodology (see Figure 3-1).

A science teacher demonstrating the concept of methodology.

Figure 3-1. A science teacher demonstrating the concept of methodology.

A method, as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary, is a systematic way of accomplishing something. I deduced from Mr. K.'s behavior in class that no matter how late a person was out on a given night, or how many bars he visited before sleeping in his car, if he faithfully followed the methodological formulas of chemistry, he could achieve the same results repeatedly without risk. Despite threats to the contrary, no students were ever harmed in his presence. The immutable laws of science, Mr. K. proclaimed, are all powerful, as they have a consistency beyond everything ...

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