Edison and Innovation Blog

Learning Innovation from Thomas A. Edison
January 28, 2014

There has to be a better way

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

Many innovations are caused by someone dealing with a product or process, getting a little frustrated and saying, there has to be a better way. One great example of this is Reed Hastings and the founding of Netflix.

Reed had misplaced a VHS copy of Apollo 13 that he had rented more than a month before. When he took it back he had amassed over $40 in late fees. After he thought that there must be a better way, he came up with the business model of paying a monthly fee and getting as many movies as you want by mail. Eventually this plan, along with the introduction of streaming videos, changed the industry and has eliminated most local video stores.

We are going to have to deal with issues that do not go our way. The question is, what do we do? Are we satisfied with the status quo or do we look to make it better, not just for ourselves, but for others? Edison wanted to find a better way and stated, “My desire is to do everything within my power to free people from drudgery and create the largest measure of happiness and prosperity.” The message for today is to become the solution. When you see a problem, you can be the one who finds the better way.

This blog was originally posted January 22, 2013

January 21, 2014

Innovation = Jobs

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

This blog will take you to visit two different articles.  The first article is from The Economist, titled, “The Onrushing Wave.”  It explores the idea that innovation, while eliminating some jobs, has always led to long term job growth.  Innovation is not just good for you, not just good for your company or organization, but is also good for the economy and society as a whole.

The second article is from the USA Today titled, “The Most Innovative Companies in the World.”   It takes a look at companies that have been granted the most patents.  While this may not be the perfect way to identify innovative companies, it is an interesting list.  Some of the companies surprised me. 

So, please take a few minutes and read these articles, they may provide just the insights you need to improve your innovations.

January 15, 2014

Odd and Crazy on the Road to innovation

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

Each year I read the articles that come out of the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in Las Vegas.  The show is a place where many new and interesting products are shown.  One of these years I would love to go and see what ideas some of the most innovative minds have come up with.

One article from CNN.com that caught my eye was titled “Six odd and crazy technologies at CES.”  In our study of innovation, innovators and their products are never called normal.  It is in the odd and the crazy where innovation happens.

So take a look at the ideas that are considered unusual or “out there.”  These odd and crazy ideas may be the stepping stones on your road to your innovation.

January 10, 2014

Busy versus Innovation

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

Almost everyone you meet says they are busy.  Have you ever been in a meeting and heard someone say, “I am not very busy.  I could take another assignment.”  If you have, they probably only said it once.  In today’s world being busy has become a way of life, a badge of honor, and unfortunately, a roadblock to innovation.

Being busy and getting things done can give you a rush as you complete your tasks and quickly move to the next one.  There are two things that you must make time for to succeed at innovation.  You may not feel busy while doing them, but they may be the best use of your time in your quest for innovation.

1. Take time to create.  When we work with people, we help them evaluate what they lack to become more innovative.  Taking time to be creative is one of the most important things they are missing.  We suggest that you take time to become involved in creative activities and take time to be creative with your innovation.

2. Take time to fail.  Edison and other great innovators had more failures than successes.  What made the difference was they knew that the road to success is paved with the bricks of failure.  Make sure to take the time to make mistakes.  Learn from them and keep moving forward.

So, fight the need to be busy and find the time to be what is really important.  It may be just what you need to find success with your innovation.

January 1, 2014

Edison: Goals and Resolutions for 2014

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

This time of year people reflect on the past year and set goals and resolutions for the next. Where can we improve? What can we accomplish? Such questions often fill our minds at home and work. Thomas Edison asked these and similar questions all through his life. He had an unusual outlook as he sought the answers. When he applied his conclusions to innovation, he created remarkable results.

A great example from Edison’s life about his goals and vision is found in the creation of the light bulb. Edison had a vision of what he wanted to accomplish: to create the incandescent light bulb. While he had some ideas on how he would accomplish his goal, he did not have all the steps laid out on a nice checklist. In fact, most of his steps “failed.” He tried thousands of approaches to developing the right filament that did not work. This didn’t distract him from his goal. What others perceived as failure, Edison viewed as important steps to his ultimate goal.

When asked about his results, or rather lack of results, regarding the light bulb Edison stated, “Results? Why, man, I’ve gotten lots of results! If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every every wrong attempt discarded is often a step forward…” He recognized the small steps he took brought him closer to his goal, even if an outside observer considered it a failure. Each “failure” was really a learning opportunity.

Innovation often comes from trying new approaches to old problems. So as we begin a new year, keep in mind the words of Edison’s good friend Henry Ford, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

This blog was originally posted December 28, 2010