My How Innovation Works Review is based on The Rubric.

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How Innovation Works Review by The Rubric

In Total79%
How Innovation Works Review

How Innovation Works Review



Before I begin my review of How Innovation Works by Matt Ridley, I feel compelled to mention that The Rubric is specifically meant to grade business books, and not any other genre. Meaning, the point of this exercise is to identify those books that are helpful to people with regards to business, not entertainment.

With that in mind, How Innovation Works is a solid book for those of us in business, giving a broad history of those innovations that have made life as we know it possible, while homing in on innovation’s implications for business and commercial success.

The first part of the title promises to tell us how innovation works, but I think the author did a better job of showing us what innovation is not—the eureka moments and quantum leaps—a point he returned to thematically throughout the stories of innovations from the light bulb to the green revolution to internet.

Perhaps the best part of his argument for how innovation works is offering the reader the distinction between invention and innovation, which are often interchanged for each other in everyday conversation.

As the subtitle promises, Ridley also returns to the theme of why innovation flourishes in freedom throughout the book, and quite directly at the end. He takes aim at both government, intellectual property laws and legal battles, as well as enterprise itself for slowing innovation by stifling freedom. This was the argument that tied the book together. Well explored, and well articulated.

Unfortunately, at the very end of the book, Ridley seemed called to make predictions about potential innovations in the next thirty years. I wish he hadn’t, as it seemed the only afterthought he presented in the entire text. Everything else was so well-reasoned and tidy.

Oh well.

By The Rubric, How Innovation Works scored “Excellent” for arguments.



To be honest, when I’m scouring new releases to find books to read and review, I’m not as interested in their descriptions as I am in their category—new business book releases. And so I chose this book based on its category and then title, without reading the description.

Had I done a bit more due diligence, I would have realized there wasn’t much hope for practicality in this book. Ridley offers neither prescriptions nor checklists for innovation, just encouragement. But then again, encouragement is nothing to laugh at when it comes to business.

By The Rubric, How Innovation Works scored “It’s a Start” for practicality.



If I were grading this book on entertainment, it would have scored higher in this section—perhaps as much as 85%. I truly enjoyed the stories, and it was an excellent companion on my morning walks (I listened to the audio version).

But given I have to take into account its inspiration factors (with regards to business), as well as how well targeted it was (it wasn’t), it didn’t score quite as high.

By The Rubric, How Innovation Works scored “Decent” for enjoyability.



Matt Ridley is an excellent writer and storyteller, and it shows in every chapter of this book.

By The Rubric, How Innovation Works scored “Excellent” for readability.



None needed and none offered. This book stands on its own.



There are nothing but the author’s ideas and arguments to buy in this book, which are apparent from the outset. And for that it scores well for rhetoric.

By The Rubric, How Innovation Works scored “Excellent” for rhetoric.

In Total


This is a wonderful book for leisure, but if you’re looking for an instruction manual on how to innovate, you’ll need to keep searching. Perhaps something on startups from The List.

By The Rubric, How Innovation Works scored “Decent” in total.