Edison and Innovation Blog

Learning Innovation from Thomas A. Edison
June 27, 2014

Is your innovation a flop?

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

Sometimes just a different approach can be innovative.  Dick Fosbury changed his approach to high jumping as a high school athlete when he struggled with the old approach to clear the bar.  His new approach was the opposite of what everyone else did.  Instead of going over the bar face first, he went over head first and with his back to the bar.  At first he was made fun of, but his scores kept improving.   In 1968 he won the gold medal in the Mexico Olympics.  By 1980 nearly every high jumper had adopted his approach which became known as the “Fosbury Flop.”

So take a look at your approach to the task at hand.  Do you need to do something radically different or even the opposite of what everyone else does?  You might find a new approach to be successful, or if you are real lucky your innovation may be a “flop.”


June 19, 2014

What you want matters

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

I have a confession.  I don’t like peanut butter.  I like peanuts.  I like butter.  But I have never liked peanut butter.  I don’t hate it but I really don’t like it.  No matter how hard I tried, I could never get passionate about it.

George Washington CarverToday, I want to talk a few minutes about someone who was passionate about the peanut, George Washington Carver.  His journey from starting life as a slave to eventually testifying in front congress is an amazing story.  Carver’s innovations centered on agriculture.  Specifically, he worked to improve farming and develop uses for agricultural products.   He found many new uses for the peanut and other products.  His goal was simple, he wanted to make life better for poor farmers in the American South.

Here are two aspects of what Carver did that we can learn from.

  1. To increase the yield for all crops, he encouraged  encouraging crop rotation by replacing cotton with such crops as soybeans, sweet potatoes and peanuts.
  2. He also created new products using soybeans, sweet potatoes and peanuts that increased the markets for these products.

Once you have developed a new product you often have to create or enlarge the market for your product.  For example, in his case, Carver needed to increase the demand for peanuts, so he created new products that used the peanut.  Everything from new things to eat to hair and grooming products.

Caver wanted to help famers and he loved what he did.  He stated it this way, “If you love it enough, anything will talk to you.”  So while you work with your innovation, take a look at what you want and why you want it.  If you love what you do, it may even tell you what you need to do to be innovative.

June 12, 2014

Creative Patience

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

We live in a world where we want instant gratification. We want our questions answered right now. We want results today. Companies must perform today or their stock price will fall. We want innovation now.

In reality the world does not work that quickly. The things that really last in life take time to build. Innovation takes time. The key to our success may just be having patience, patience with ourselves and with our circumstances. Edison stated it this way, “Many of life’s failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

This video explains how being patient may be the key to our creativity and innovation.

This Blog was originally posted May 15, 2013


June 6, 2014

You got to love it

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

Steve Jobs knew what it took to be successful at innovation. Over the years, he had major successes and large failures. What kept him going? Why was he successful when others were not? In our study of innovators we have discovered a number of attributes and skills that are always present in innovation. Jobs listed what he believed are the two most important:

1. You have to love it – Passion and Perseverance
2. Be a really good talent scout.

Both of these are key elements to success. Innovation can be hard, discouraging and take a long time. Without the love and the passion for what you are doing, you will not have the ability to keep going when times get really tough.

While many people look to great innovators as if they did the work themselves, innovation is really a team sport. You have to be able to recognize your own strengths and weaknesses and then go find others who can help you be successful.

So, take a look at yourself and ask if you love what you are doing and if you have the right people working around you.  This might be all the difference it takes to find your success in innovation.