O'Reilly logo

The Myths of Innovation by Scott Berkun

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

The infinite paths of innovation

The good news that arises from all of these challenges is that there are many ways to succeed. We're lucky: all the great things civilization has created did happen, despite all the reasons they didn't have to. However, which paths are open or closed at any moment is impossible to know. The path that worked last week is not guaranteed to work today, and an innovation that has failed in the past might just be the right thing for right now. Successful innovations are highly unpredictable, even in the view of experts or the innovator themselves, as is the case of three unlikely but telling success stories: 3M, Craigslist, and Flickr.

In the summer of 2002, a small team of Vancouver programmers were working to build an online game called Game Neverending. The idea was to build an experience so fun and interesting that people would pay money to spend time in this invented world (similar to today's popular and addictive World of Warcraft). One goal the programmers had was to make communication easy between people inside the game, easier even than being in the same room. They built a simple tool that allowed players to talk, exchange instant messages, and share photos. It was a minor part of a major project and, at the time, not much was thought of it.

As weeks passed, they realized the photo-sharing tool they'd built was a more promising business than the game itself. It was fun to use, and as it was improved, it developed features that even professional ...

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required