Book update: inside scoop + 1st draft complete

10 months down the road, the first draft is in the bag.

Although I’ve written nearly 40 posts about innovation here, I’ve kept quiet about book details for sanity reasons: I don’t know how to write the book, and write about writing the book, without frying my small brain.

So as thanks to all you who have helped out so far with comments and questions, here’s the inside scoop:

The Inside scoop on the innovation book

The book demystifies the history of great innovations. In over a year of research I’ve uncovered many popular beliefs about innovators, discoveries and inventions, that are dangerously inaccurate: trying to emulate these false ideas sets up todays innovators and big thinkers to fail: we’re chasing romance, not reality. For example:

  • Newton did not discover gravity by watching apples.
  • Gutenberg did not invent the printing press (Nor did Edison invent the light bulb).
  • Eureka and breakthrough moments are overrated.
  • Technological progress is not guaranteed (todays innovations are not necessarily better than those they replace).
  • Good ideas rarely win on their merits alone.

The book attacks gaps between what we think we know, and what the truth is, about how innovations happen. It calls out these myths, through taunts, name calling and silly faces, showing the reader how to disarm and overcome them. And then the book goes after three things: 1) investigating why these misconceptions are popular, 2) using history to explain the truth and 3) provide lessons based on how innovations in business, technology and science really happen.

What’s next?

I’m deep in revision on draft 2: rereading, rewriting, and other writerly fun. A small cabal of reviewers have given feedback on draft one, and I’m using that to guide my way.

I’m currently searching for photos for the book – I need good sources of archival photos from the history of technology (although I’m open to other photo concepts for the book). If you have suggestions, or know a good book photo editor, contact me.

If draft 2 goes well, we may still be on track for a late Spring 2007 release. Stay tuned.

Questions? Suggestions? Or take the easy way out, and throw me some love on nailing draft numero uno! (Hint/plea: a simple “go Berkun!” goes a long way towards writing morale)

20 Responses to “Book update: inside scoop + 1st draft complete”

  1. John

    Congrats Scott! (Yup, I’m taking the easy way out, unless you want me to review your first draft)

    Loved your session on Innovation at Mindcamp and I’m really looking forward to checking out the book when it’s ready.

  2. Doeke Zanstra

    I know what to ask for my next birthday :-)

  3. Jorge Aranda

    I just ordered your Art of PM book today after browsing it and loving what I saw, and this other book sounds great as well –looking forward to it!

  4. Bob Lasiewicz

    Hi Scott – Way to go! I’m looking forward to reading this one as the Art of PM was an enjoyable read for me. I’m in a doctoral program and focusing on what drives the successful formation of communities of practitioners. Do you think real innovation is possible through distributed 2.0 type communites?

  5. mpg

    “Go, Berkun, go!”

    Let us know when we can place those advance orders…

    -mpg (who rec’d a free copy of the PM book at MindCamp last year)

  6. Scott (admin)

    You guys rock – Just goes to show writers who grovel get at least a little love :)

    Bob: I think innovation is possible anywhere, and there’s proof. I mean, people have innovated in prison cells (See The Great escape: it’s mostly true), and if you can do it there you can pretty much do it anywhere.

    But I don’t think communities in the large really qualify as innovators – it’s usually small groups of people that take on the heavy lifting and drive the action – most open source communities, the often used model, have a wildly disproportionate rate of contribution, with a small core that really drive the show.

  7. Zoltán Gócza

    go, Scott, go :)
    the Art of PM was not only a very good read but a book I refer to a lot. looking forward for your new book! the subject is very promising!

  8. Waqas

    Groovy Scott,

    Go Berkun Go :)

    I hope appearance of book, the way material is laid out and all other other things will be innovative too, besides the topic :)

    Please do include some margins to take notes. It was good to see some blank pages at the end of Norman’s “Design of Everyday Things” but I discovered those blank pages only when I finished reading the whole book :) But it’s your book so you have to decide :)
    Illustrations also help, I am talking about Keithy Sierra’s approach. What I have read( Christensen and James Utterback) on innovation so far is very booring. I mean content was great and well researched and authors are pillars and cornerstone in academia when it comes to innovation but for a layman who wants to know more about dynamics of innovation it was plain booring. But I am sure you will give us a great book, just like AOPM :)

    Keep up the good work.


  9. Jason Bates

    Hey Scott,

    I’ve just found the blog. Loved your previous work, and I’m sure that the innovation book will be just as insightful, and successful.

    I wanted to offer up a metaphor for innovation that came to me a few years ago when I was contemplating what I do when I am at my most creative. I wondered if it tied in with what you had found….

    Please feel free to use/abuse/cannibalize as necessary



  10. Gina

    Go go gadget Scott! You can do it, my friend.

    This book-writing thing is tough stuff, but I’ve got faith in you. This book is sounding YUMMY, by the way. Can’t wait to get my paws on a copy.

  11. Scott (admin)

    Thanks everybody! The support sure helps while during the insanity of rewriting the same damn paragraph in Chp2 for the 12th time (it’s still not right! :).

  12. ToddZ

    Hey Scott,
    Glad to hear #2 is purring along. Also nice to know you no longer have to suffer the endless christmas tunes of coffee shops and have been able to return home to power, warmth, and your own collection of songs.

    Enjoy the hollydays and best o luck in the home stretch on the innovation book. Very tempting based on your teasers thus far!!


  13. Trena

    Awesome. Your site and Art of PM book have been huge assets over the past few years… I can’t wait to get ahold of this one! Congrats!!

  14. CM

    Implementation trumps Innovation. Doing creates invention.
    I’ve been waiting for this proposal for while!

  15. jfontecha

    Scott, what are your thought on this? It looks rather interesting, and it might provide some insight for your new book. PS: I have not finished your PM book… you need to write a book on how to manage procrastination!

  16. Ron Richard

    I added a link to your blog. See InherentQuality.Com then max your browser, select Quality Decisions from menu, read ‘9. Rise’ … ‘inside scoop’ is the link… go Berkun!

    Best Regards, Ron

  17. Jon Innes


    Looking forward to the book…let me know if you want a proof reader…




  1. […] I’ll probably say more about this when I get a copy of the slides Scott (Berkun, author of The Art of Project Management and the upcoming The Myths of Innovation used, but the emphasis of this session was on being an innovator and integrating the art and creativity of innovation with the real world demands for schedules, milestones, and fiscal responsibility. So, my scattered notes of things that I found particularly interesting: It helps to define innovation (my thought: it’s like pornography– hard to define, but I know it when I see it). His simple definition: to begin or introduce something for the first time. […]

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