I was asked to read and review the book “The Idea Factory Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation” by Jon Gertner. It’s funny, this is not the type of book that I would typically select and read myself. My reading typically consists of marketing books (for business improvement) or pure fiction (for mindless entertainment). This book is actually more of a business history book. In it the author vividly describes the processes and the personalities
that came together to form Bell Labs during the last century. It provides fascinating stories of various inventions, and the not-so-obvious way that they came to be. As in any modern corporation, politics and resistance were met at many turns, and the strong and diverse personalities behind the “brains” of the group often found themselves in conflict.
If you are looking for a “how-to” book for implementing innovation in your own organization, then this is not for you. If on the other hand you are interested in getting an insider’s glimpse into one of the most innovative organizations of the last one hundred years, then you will find this to be an enjoyable (though lengthy) read.