Edison and Innovation Blog

Learning Innovation from Thomas A. Edison
March 27, 2013

What motivates your innovation?

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

Edison was motivated to innovate for a number of reasons. He stated one of his most noble reasons as, “My desire is to do everything within my power to free people from drudgery and create the largest measure of happiness and prosperity.” Today, I would like to introduce you to an innovation that fulfils this reason for innovation.

Imagine that you have been in an accident and you have become paralyzed. Your life will go on, and if you push yourself you will continue to strive, but you have lost something. You have lost a level of mobility and wonder if you will ever be able to get it back. The following video shows what the power of innovation can do in people’s lives and should help you in your desire to innovate.


March 19, 2013

Start where others have stopped

Author: Don Mangum, Jr. - Categories: Alexander Graham Bell, Innovation Quotes, Innovators - Tags:

Innovation does not occur in a vacuum.  Lots of people have worked on lots of projects and come close to innovation, but have not succeeded.  Innovators build on the work of others, and a great example of this is Alexander Graham Bell.

Bell is credited with the invention of the telephone, but many people were working on a phone at that time.  A decade prior to Bell’s phone, inventors were having success transmitting some sound by wire.  Some were very close to success.  Bell borrowed from others and built on their ideas.  He was able to take the initial idea, create a new invention and take his invention all the way to a useful commercial innovation.

Edison understood the idea of building on the work of others when he said, “I start where the last man left off.”   So, look around.  The next great innovation may be close to being done, but just needs you to finish the idea.  Innovation may come from building on the ideas of others and not stopping until you reach success.

March 12, 2013

Is Telecommuting Innovative?

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

Recently Yahoo and Best Buy announced that they would end telecommuting and require their employees to come back and work in the office.  Both companies have been on a downward trend and are in need of a turn around.  The justification for the change was the need for collaboration and innovation.  So the question is, can you telecommute and be innovative?

I went back and looked at our research to see where innovation happens.  It happens everywhere, in offices, in laboratories, in fields, and at home in garages and even in kitchens.  Location, while important to innovation, is not a key factor.  Two factors to innovation do stand out in the debate about innovation and telecommuting.  They are communicating with others and being able to work without too many distractions.  Not being able to focus on your innovation can keep you from success.

Having worked from home and in the office, I have seen some advantages of both.  For example, there are some strong advantages in being able to collaborate with your team if they are all in one location.  Everyone can get together quickly and discuss opportunities and problems as they occur.  Also, while conference calls can be a wonderful tool, there is something about face to face communication that is very important.  Some great ideas have sprung from people scribbling on a napkin over lunch.

However, one of the most frustrating things about working at the office is the number of distractions that occur when people just stop by, or so called emergencies pop up.  I can’t count the number of times that I have had to work late or on weekends so I could get a few hours of uninterrupted time.  Uninterrupted time is often a catalyst to innovation.

All of this being said, my conclusion is that while on the surface it may appear that ending telecommuting will help innovation, the real issue is creating an environment that fosters innovation regardless of the location.  If a company does not have an innovative culture, or has a failing business model, the employees location will not really effect innovation.  So, as you look to be more innovative individuals and organizations, don’t focus on where you innovate but work on rewarding and promoting innovation.  That is where you will make it happen.

March 6, 2013

Quoting Innovation

Author: Don Mangum, Jr. - Categories: Innovation Quotes - Tags:

I like quotes.  I like short snippets of wisdom from people who have succeeded and often from those who have struggled.   Most of what I do on twitter is related to tweeting Edison quotes or other quotes from innovators about innovation.  In this post I thought I would share some of my favorite quotes about innovation and why I find them insightful.

“The cure for Apple is not cost-cutting. The cure for Apple is to innovate its way out of its current predicament.” – Steve Jobs 

I have been around a number of companies and when the going gets tough, the tough often cut costs and lay people off.  While sometimes this may be necessary, more often it is innovation that is the long term solution.


“To innovate is not to reform.” – Edmund Burke

“Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.”  – Theodore Levitt

Often people think they are innovating, but really they are just making things better.  It is important to make things more efficient, but that is not innovation.  Innovation goes beyond reforming and being creative.  It is coming up with a new solution.

“Well, when you’re trying to create things that are new, you have to be prepared to be on the edge of risk.” – Michael Eisner

“No one who accomplished things could expect to avoid mistakes. Only those who do nothing make mistakes.” – Harry Truman

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” -Wayne Gretzky

Innovation is inherently risky.  Most innovators have spectacular failures to go along with their incredible success.  What separates the successful innovators from those who do not innovate is often the willingness to accept the risk, learn from failures and keep taking the shots.

These are just of few of the thoughts that we find inspiring.  Let us know what innovation thoughts inspire you and we will share them with others.