Edison and Innovation Blog

Learning Innovation from Thomas A. Edison
April 24, 2012

Innovation Thoughts of Thomas A. Edison

Author: Don Mangum - Categories: Innovation Quotes - Tags:

Thomas Edison was the most successful innovator in history.  His records are filled with ideas about how to succeed as an innovator.  Quite a few of our blog posts are based on his ideas.  As many of you know, we have been writing these blogs for about two years.  While you have been reading our posts, we’ve been watching the items on the blog that draw the most attention.  Quotations from Thomas Edison are among the front runners.  Because these ideas of Edison are scattered throughout more than 100 blog posts, they are a little hard to find.

To make it easier, we’ve written a short E-book filled with quotes from Thomas Edison.  Our original intent was to offer the book for free through Amazon Kindle.  However, that idea was not attractive to Amazon, so instead we are releasing the book today for their minimum price of 99 cents.  We think you will find it inspirational and insightful.  It isn’t long, but it is filled with suggestions about how to improve your innovation skills.  The quotations cover a wide variety of Edison’s thoughts on a myriad of subjects.  We’ve organized the book around principles Edison used along the road he followed on the way to his remarkable successes in innovation. 

You can find it at: Click Here



April 16, 2012

How Innovative is a Carrot?

Author: Don Mangum, Jr. - Categories: Innovators - Tags:

A few weeks ago, we asked if ketchup could be innovative. Now we are going to ask if a vegetable can be innovative. Why not?

Several months ago one of my children asked me where baby carrots came from. While this is a much easier question than where actual babies come from, it was a question I couldn’t answer. Recently I ran across the answer and I was truly amazed.

In the mid 1980’s a California carrot farmer named Mike Yurosek was frustrated with the number of carrots he couldn’t take to market. A large percentage of carrots do not grow in the proper shape, the one we see Bugs Bunny nibbling on. These carrots are deformed or “ugly carrots.” Industry estimates are that one-third of carrots are not pretty enough to sell in stores. But, like many people, while they are not attractive on the outside, they are still great on the inside.

Yurosek searched for a way to sell the “ugly carrots.” He knew he needed to change their looks. At first he worked by hand. Soon he combined an industrial green bean cutter with an industrial potato peeler and created a small peeled product which he named baby carrots. He sold them to some stores and the baby carrots became an immediate hit. It is now estimated that baby carrots are a 400 million dollar a year product. To succeed, Yurosek left the path that everyone else followed and was clearly rewarded.

So yes, a carrot can be innovative. Yurosek used what was considered waste and with the help of a new process he created a new product that he took to market. Not as flashy as innovating in the high tech area, but still incredibly innovative. So, the question we should ask ourselves is what do we have sitting around or are throwing away that could become the great new innovation?

This blog was originally posted April 19, 2011

April 10, 2012

One thing you can do to be more innovative.

Author: Don Mangum, Jr. - Categories: Thomas Edison - Tags:

We often work with people who want to be more innovative and ask what they can do to become more innovative today.  While there are a number of skills and practices that can be improved, there is one activity that can quickly make the most difference.

This activity is closely related to creativity and imagination.  It is internal and difficult to judge.  It is the skill and discipline of taking time to think, ponder and use your imagination.  The world we live in moves pretty fast.  Information comes at us all the time from multiple sources and we can even carry it with us all the time.  But there is a cost to being plugged in all the time.  It can become dominating and addicting.  We take time to take in the information, but not necessary enough time to process it and ponder new and creative ideas.  Innovation takes time, but are we willing to take the time?  Edison said,  “The best thinking has been done in solitude. The worst has been done in turmoil.”

Here are several simple steps we can take to improve our ability to think, ponder and imagine: 

  1. Unplug – This does not mean all the time, but  on a regular basis we do need to take occasional breaks from the onslaught of fast-paced information.   Create a time when you will not be interrupted and when you don’t feel you have to check your phone or email.
  2. Go for a walk without the iPod – Let your mind spend some time without stimulation, get a little air, clear your head and see what can come from that.
  3. Read something you enjoy – Read something that is not mindless, yet still gives you the opportunity to clear your mind and be open to new possibilities.
  4. Take time to daydream – Innovators are dreamers.  Spend time in your imagination and dream of new possibilities and solutions.

 These simple steps can put you on a path to greater innovation.  They are simple in explanation but hard in implementation.  It you spend some time doing one of them you will be greatly rewarded.  So pick one and give it a try.  Send us a note and let us know how you do.

April 3, 2012

The Accidental Innovation

Author: Don Mangum, Jr. - Categories: Become More Innovative - Tags:

We have all heard stories about innovations that happened by accident.  Someone stumbles onto a solution to a problem they did not even know they had.  They turn this accident into a valuable innovation.  A question reasonably follows, “How can I have an accidental innovation?” 

As the video below shows, there seem to be two factors that usually contribute to an accidental innovation: 

  1. The innovator is working hard at something.
  2. The innovator looks at what he has found and is willing to be creative in application and open to a new idea. 

So how can you find your accidental innovation?  Keep working, you aren’t going to find your accident by just dreaming or sitting on the couch.  Then, once you find something new or unusual, be open to new possibilities.  You may have just found penicillin, Velcro or the next microwave.