Mstation Book Reviews
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Fri, 31 Aug 2007

Myths of Innovation

Scott Berkun, The Myths of Innovation,

Hmmmmm. I'm not sure that this book is very successful in its aim but it does make some good points. The problem might be that this book is not written for me, a creative person, and therefore, in most corporate environments, the sworn enemy of all the middle-management rules-based people.

To them he talks, spinning a readable yarn which negates epithany and emphasises the work after ... the idea. All very true but the likes of Einstein or Newton are viewed with a somewhat tabloid eye, that either trivialises or denies great achievment. So, you're as good as them are you? (the usual aim) Well, I certainly am not. There is even a ridiculous statement that seeks to negate Newton's genius by suggesting that his playing with alchemy and trying to turn base metals into gold was just a mistake, and with the implication that ole Isaac was just a regular Joe fumbling around. What Newton was doing was exploring unknown areas of science and what might appear to be a mistake given our knowledge most certainly wasn't then unless you were a blind believer in the thoughts of the time. Even now, in fact, there seem to be unkowns in relation to crystal behaviour which might suggest the possibility of weird things happening.

While he does approach the idea of a creative workplace by mentioning the likes of Google he doesn't do so in any depth. There is, of course, a reason why larger companies have trouble doing this. It's not that the people are all idiots. It's that these places need rules to function and the freedom for minds to roam in a sort of focussed freedom. So, it's matter of balance and getting it right on a continued basis is just plain difficult.

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