How Breakthroughs Happen:
The Surprising Truth About How Companies Innovate

Harvard Business Review Press, 2003

Did you know that the incandescent lightbulb first emerged some thirty years before Thomas Edison famously ‘turned night into day’? Or that Henry Ford’s revolutionary assembly line came from an unlikely blend of observations from Singer sewing machines, meatpacking, and Campbell’s Soup?

In this fascinating study of innovation, engineer and social scientist Andrew Hargadon argues that our romantic notions about innovation as invention are actually undermining our ability to pursue breakthrough innovations.

Based on a decade of study into the origins of historic inventions and modern innovations from the light bulb to the transistor to the Reebok Pump athletic shoe, “How Breakthroughs Happen” takes us beyond the simple recognition that revolutionary innovations do not result from flashes of brilliance by lone inventors or organizations. In fact, innovation is really about creatively recombining ideas, people, and objects from past technologies in ways that spark new technological revolutions.

“Hargadon’s argument is a well-written and well-supported corrective to the “lone genius” myth of technological innovation.”

— Reed Business Information