The Innovation Delusion: How Our Obsession with the New Has Disrupted the Work That Matters Most
Pre-Order Ships Sep 08, 2020
DescriptionInnovation is the hottest buzzword in business. But what if its benefits have been exaggerated, and our obsession with finding the next big thing has distracted us from the work that matters most?
It's hard to avoid innovation these days. Nearly every product gets marketed as being disruptive, whether it's genuinely a new invention or just a new toothbrush. But in this manifesto on thestate of American work, historians of technology Lee Vinsel and Andrew L. Russell argue that our way of thinking about and pursuing innovation has made us poorer, less safe, and--ironically--less innovative. Drawing on years of original research and reporting, The Innovation Delusion shows how the ideology of change for its own sake has proved a disaster. Corporations have spent millions hiring chief innovation officers while their core businesses tank. Computer science programs have drilled their students on programming and design, even though theoverwhelming majority of jobs are in IT and maintenance. In countless cities, suburban sprawl has left local governments with loads of deferred repairs that they can't afford to fix. And sometimes innovation even kills--like in 2018 when a Miami bridge hailed for its innovative design collapsed onto a highway and killed six people. In this provocative, deeply researched book, Vinsel and Russell tell the story of how we devalued the work that underpins modern life--and, in doing so, wrecked our economy and public infrastructure while lining the pockets of consultants who combine the ego of Silicon Valley with the worst of Wall Street's greed. The authors offer a compelling plan for how we can shift our focus away from the pursuit of growth at all costs, and back toward neglected activities like maintenance, care, and upkeep. For anyone concerned by the crumbling state of our roads and bridges or the direction our economy is headed, The Innovation Delusion is a deeply necessary reevaluation of a trend we can still disrupt.
September 08, 2020
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About the Author
Lee Vinsel is a professor in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society at Virginia Tech. Andrew L. Russell is a professor of history and the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at SUNY Polytechnic Institute. Together, they are the founders of the Maintainers research network and conferences, and their writing on the topics of this book have appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and Wired.
"[A] resounding call for sane business growth. The Silicon Valley ethos of 'failing faster' can work for website and app developers, for whom profit margins are high and the costs of failure are low--but it's terrible advice for people building tangible items. . . . Vinsel and Russell profile businesspeople, including Andrea Goulet, CEO of the 'software mending' firm Corgibytes, and Yury Izrailevsky and Ariel Tseitlin, formerly Netflix's directors of, respectively, cloud solutions and systems architecture, whom they celebrate for being concerned with upkeep rather than invention. . . . Readers will come away from Vinsel and Russell's urgent and illuminating primer with a new perspective on the importance of maintenance as well as innovation in business."--Publishers Weekly (starred review) "In this caring ode to the ordinary grit of maintenance, Lee Vinsel and Andrew Russell light a brilliant bonfire of the vanities from carefree innovation-speak. We should upkeep their message, and repair our corporations, communities, and consciousness. This book is more than a conversation starter--it's a course correction."--Guru Madhavan, Norman R. Augustine Senior Scholar and director of programs at the National Academy of Engineering, and author of Applied Minds: How Engineers Think