I just finished reading Scott Berkun’s “The Myths of Innovation,” a book that belongs on any local newspaper leader’s bookshelf along with Jim Collins’ Good to Great, Clayton Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma, and few others.
Berkun dissects the messy processes behind innovation, using well-known examples from both old and recent history. This isn’t just an exercise in mythbusting: Berkun discovers lessons for those who attempt to innovate.
After demystifying the innovation behind Galileo, eBay and Craigslist, Berkun goes on to reinforce principles we all know but often violate, for example:
- All innovations build on work done previously by someone else .
- Most innovators aren’t motivated by innovating, but by solving a problem.
- Ideas are cheap but innovators start with lots of them
- Those ideas need to get filtered through reality, then executed well, to get to innovation
- There’s more luck involved than we like to admit, and lots of failures (which is why it’s foolish to focus on only one idea)
I like Berkun’s take on innovation as problem solving:
“Problem finding — problem solving’s shy, freckled, but confident cousin — is the craft of defining challenges so they’re easier to solve. Many bright would-be innovators … fail to spend enough time exploring and understanding problems before trying to solve them.”
If you’ve spent any time working through the Newspaper Next principles or Christensen’s “jobs to be done” concept, you’ve probably found it hard at times to escape your own world view. This short book (176 pages, 30 of which are notes) is a handy way to freshen your thinking.