Aaron Sumner


O'Reilly Master Class: Leading and Managing Breakthrough Projects Video (a book report)

I’m a big fan of Scott Berkun’s work. His book The Myths of Innovation, was a [favorite read of mine from last year]–rkun.html). If you’ve read that book and want reinforcement of the practices it suggests, or are looking for a video alternative, this O’Reilly Master class video may be a good pick. It’s a recording of Berkun leading a workshop on the topic of innovation, I’m guessing from around the time of the book’s first edition’s release. While being in the actual room the day of the workshop is likely the ideal, this high-quality video recording is the next best thing.

Like the book, Leading and Managing Breakthrough Projects pulls heavily from Berkun’s thorough research on history’s great innovators and his own experience as a project manager at Microsoft. It’s a dense video, packing a day’s worth of material into four hours. His presentation style works well in this situation—it’s a little bit of storytelling, a little bit of sharing his own reflections on those stories, and a lot of drawing out reflections from participants (and viewers). Along the way Berkun shares a number of exercises, metrics, and general advice for the would-be innovator, whether that person is leading a team at a large organization or going it alone in the garage at nights.

The video itself is high enough quality that I wasn’t distracted by technical issues, but it is apparent that O’Reilly has honed their approach to the Master Class series since producing Leading and Managing Breakthrough Projects. More recent videos I’ve seen from this series were produced in a controlled environment with a small group of participants and multiple camera angles, and ultimately for the sole purpose of producing online. This video uses a more traditional approach by capturing a standard workshop—single-camera-in-the-back, focused on the presenter, occasional sounds and minor distractions as workshop participants move chairs. The drawback is that it’s difficult to hear what participants are saying at times. Headphones helped for me.

Is this video strictly necessary if you’ve already read The Myths of Innovation? While the two cover similar ground, I found the video to be good reinforcement to the lessons learned that Berkun shares in the book. The inclusion of exercises to lead yourself and/or your team through to generate ideas, assess the risk associated with them, and identify and manage the resources necessary to make them real is a great addition to your inventor’s or project manager’s library.

More information about O’Reilly Master Class: Leading and Managing Breakthrough Projects Video is available from O’Reilly.

Note: I wrote this review for O’Reilly’s Blogger Review Program. It’s a pretty nice deal: Get a free e-book to read, share a review in your blog, get another free book to read. Sign up for yourself to take advantage of this deal, and watch for more book reports in my blog.

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