Edison and Innovation Blog

Learning Innovation from Thomas A. Edison
September 25, 2013

Build Something Better

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

We have all heard that if you build a better mouse trap the world will beat a path to your door.  The lesson  to be learned here is that if you can take something simple and make it better, you could have a wonderful innovation.

Take a simple idea such as a garbage can.  It is even simpler than a mousetrap.  It is just a receptacle where we put unwanted items.  Eventually, someone comes along and empties it.  Could you make an innovation with a product that simple?  Someone aleady has.

The video below explains how one company took the simple outdoor garbage can and created an innovation.  With the additions of a solar powered trash compactor and some wireless technology, they have created something truly innovative.  If they can do this with what was at one point a simple container, what can you do?  Look around.  Some simple item nearby  may be ripe for an innovation.

September 19, 2013

Innovation with the Sharks

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

Recently, I was visiting with an innovator who was having trouble moving his innovation from creation to market. He has an interesting idea that people seem to like.  However, he has not been able to get the funding he needs to go to the next step. He is not the first innovator I have seen in this situation.  With these innovators I have asked the same question, “Have you ever watched Shark Tank?”

As you may know, this television show follows a very simple format. A person with a new product or service comes into a room with five potential investors (called sharks). The innovator presents their product, including what investment amount he wants from the sharks. The sharks ask questions.  Eventually, one or more of them will make an investment, or all of them bow out.

The program in very entertaining.  It also deals with real issues of growing a business.  In this case, it is taking a new and sometimes innovative product or service and turning it into a business. I don’t watch the show every week, but I do catch it when I can.

Here are a few principles I have learned from Shark Tank that apply to innovation:

1. Often we need help with our innovation. Frequently, innovators have the skills and experience to go a long way toward completing their innovation.  However, they don’t have enough experience to finish it.  Partnering with others can make all the difference.

2. Sometimes very creative ideas are never going to make any money, or at least not very much. Edison only wanted to create innovations that made money and could demonstrate utility. A creative idea that no one will use is just a creative idea. But, if you can show that a few people are willing to pay for your invention, you may be on your way to an innovation.

3. In order to get funding (or just to move forward) you need a plan. If the plan is that you think everyone is going to want one of these, you don’t really have a plan. Plans need to be detailed and very specific.  Preferably, plans should be filled with ideas that have worked in the past. 

Spend time with some sharks and you might gain insights into what you need to complete your innovation.  We have learned from the sharks.  If you try this and learn something new, let us know.




September 10, 2013

The Journey of Innovation

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

Innovation often begins with creativity and ends with the acceptance of a new product or idea. What takes place along the way? The journey can be long, difficult and treacherous, but exciting. The road will be full of successes and failures.

The video below explores this journey.  Take a look at it.  It may help you better understand the difficulties of innovation and inspire you to keep going.  As with all challenging undertakings, the journey of innovation begins with the first step.  As long as you keep moving forward and trying hard, you are on the road to success.

September 4, 2013

Sometimes Simple Creativity Creates Innovation

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

Often when we have a difficult problem we look for a complicated solution. What we really need is a simple, creative and innovative solution to our problem.

How would you get thirty feet in the air multiple times a day? Take a look at this simple solution and maybe you can find inspiration to overcome your complicated problems with simplicity.