The Innovation Delusion: How Our Obsession with the New Has Disrupted the Work That Matters Most

Currency. Sept. 2020. 272p. ISBN 9780525575689. $28. BUS
It’s not innovation per se that Vinsel (science, technology, and society, Virginia Tech) and Russell (history, State Univ. of New York, Polytechnic Inst.) object to, but rather the pervasiveness of “innovation-speak” (sales pitch–style hype about future impact) and the throwaway economy that have led us to devalue maintenance and infrastructure. The book is divided into three sections: the first focuses on what led us to this innovation obsession; the second lists its negative effects on society, organizations, and individuals; and the third charts an alternate way forward in which we fix instead of throw away and take better care of one another and the world in which live. Though it sounds like a Luddite’s ode to the simple life, this book is not that at all. The authors embrace technology’s ability to improve our lives, not its value above all else.
VERDICT Vinsel and Russell’s observations make a compelling counterpoint to the innovation mania that has dominated this decade. Will appeal to innovation skeptics and fans of Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow and Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit.

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