In The Myths of Innovation, Scott Berkun, an American author and speaker, reveals how ideas become successful by debunking some of the most persuasive and misleading myths surrounding innovation by looking through history, from the tale of Newton’s apple to the makers of yellow Post-it Notes.
There are three main takeaways from this book.
The Myth of Epiphany
One of the most important laws that govern our universe was discovered by Sir Isaac Newton. Legend has it that Newton was sitting under a tree and an apple fell on his head and from there, the theory of gravity was born. While the tale popularized Newton’s theory, it dismissed the years that were spent to explaining the theory prior to the incident. The story suggests that great ideas come to people who happen to be in the right place at the right time. This myth leads us to believe that a singular magical moment must occur to serve as ‘the grand catalyst.’ Instead, there are smaller ideas that are conceived over time. A singular magical moment which innovators dream of is analogous to the final piece of a puzzle. This piece isn’t more valuable than the other pieces since ‘it has no magic without its connection to the other pieces.’
The Myth That We Love New Ideas
Innovators expect people to trust a new idea over something that is well established. However, people prefer ideas that have already been validated. This is because people don’t want to pay the price for ideas which may have negative implications. It is important to note that most ideas are rejected based on how they make people feel and not based on the efficacy of the idea. Therefore, innovations are adopted when they ‘diffuse into society and not when they remain forever ahead of their time.’ This reinforces the idea that an innovation has no value unless it addresses the user’s needs.
The Best Ideas Don’t Necessarily Win
After reading this book, I realized an innovation isn’t thought of overnight. Rather, it takes years of work, dedication, and determination. I also realized the importance of need-based innovation. I would recommend this book to aspiring entrepreneurs who want to understand the psychology behind creating an innovation and convincing people to adopt disruptive innovation.