O’Reilly news

The Myths of Innovation--New from O'Reilly: Everyday Magic from Scott Berkun about True Origins of Inventions, Discoveries, and Techno-Breakthroughs

May 7, 2007

Sebastopol, CA--"The question of where ideas come from is on the mind of anyone visiting a research lab, an artist's workshop, or an inventors' studio. It's the secret we hope to see--the magic that happens when new things are born," says bestselling author Scott Berkun.

So begins Berkun's highly entertaining and mesmerizing second book, The Myths of Innovation (O'Reilly, $24.99). In it, the former Microsoft manager digs into the history of innovation. He starts with the Greeks--who created a group of nine goddesses, the Muses, to represent creative power--and explores numerous inventions on up through the recent software and Internet years. Berkun illuminates why much of what we think we know about innovation is outmoded and sometimes dead wrong.

"I studied how the great innovators achieved what they did and why certain things both worked and failed," says Berkun, also the author of the bestselling The Art of Project Management (O'Reilly). "Along the way, I discovered amazing, mind-blowing facts from history that I wish someone had told me long ago. I wanted to distill the deepest, funniest, most powerful lessons from all my research into a form others could use so that anyone interested in changing the world could have a fast, entertaining, and thought-provoking path to the truth."

So what are some of these mind-blowing facts? "Well, Isaac Newton was never hit by an apple," notes Berkun. "The Nobel Peace Prize is named after the man who invented dynamite, which has been used in every war since its creation. Henry Ford was inspired to make assembly lines by watching his butcher take animals apart. And Google's page-rank idea was inspired by how academic papers list their references."

In his new book, Berkun also demystifies the concept of epiphany to reveal the truth about how breakthrough ideas are generated and evolve. "Epiphany, for all its graces, is largely irrelevant because it can't be controlled," says Berkun. "Even if there existed an epiphany genie granting big ideas to worthy innovators, they would still have piles of rather ordinary work to do to actualize these ideas."

Instead, Berkun empowers readers to start solving their problems (or the world's problems) now. "Readers discover the confidence to seek true innovation and to challenge those people who have misplaced faith in the myths," says Berkun. "And readers will be able to look at their world and their work with a sharper eye--one that helps them find the true path for positive change."

The CTO of Amazon.com Werner Vogels agrees: "This book cuts through the hype, analyzes what is essential, and more importantly, what is not. You will leave with a thorough understanding of what really drives innovation."

Berkun's power to explain the truth about innovation will change the way you think about creativity and show you how to bring your creations or inventions to the attention of the world. The Myths of Innovation is for scientists, artists, inventors, DIY-ers, managers, makers, crafters, moms and dads, and anyone involved in creating something new or fostering an environment where ideas grow and thrive.

Praise for the "Myths of Innovation"

"Insightful, inspiring, evocative, and just plain fun to read...It's totally great." -- John Seely Brown, former Chief Scientist of Xerox, and Director, Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC); current Chief of Confusion

"Small, simple, powerful: an innovative book about innovation." -- Don Norman, Nielsen Norman Group, Northwestern University; author of "Emotional Design" and "Design of Everyday Things"

"The naked truth about innovation is ugly, funny, and eye-opening, but it sure isn't what most of us have come to believe. With this book, Berkun sets us free to try to change the world, unencumbered with misconceptions about how innovation happens." -- Guy Kawasaki, author of "The Art of the Start"

"Brimming with insights and historical examples, Berkun's book not only debunks widely held myths about innovation but also points the ways toward making your new ideas stick. Even in today's ultra-busy commercial world, reading this book will be time well spent." -- Tom Kelley, GM, IDEO; author of "The Ten Faces of Innovation"

"I loved this book. It's an easy-to-read playbook for anyone wanting to lead and manage positive change in their business." -- Frank McDermott, Marketing Manager, EMI Music

The Myths of Innovation (Hard cover)
By Scott Berkun
ISBN: 0-596-52705-5, 176 pages, $24.99 US, $32.99 CAN
1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

About O’Reilly

O’Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O’Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying “faint signals” from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.

Email a link to this press release