Edison and Innovation Blog

Learning Innovation from Thomas A. Edison
October 30, 2014

Productive Innovation

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

In this blog, we are going to address the productive side of innovation. When people discuss innovation they often focus on the creative side. It is where the fun is. It is the spark that ignites the innovation process. But many a very creative idea has failed because of problems on the productive side.

Edison put it this way, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” You have to have the spark of the 1% but without continuous work and follow through there will be no innovation. As long as you are going to need to work and perspire, you might as well be productive.

Recently, I read an article on the Forbes.com website titled, “9 Habits of Productive People.” It has some interesting thoughts on how to be productive. Two of the ideas really hit home with me.

1. Take More Breaks – In our working with companies, this idea has proven to be a great key to innovation. Edison worked hard and took breaks. He took a little time away to refocus and then was more productive when he returned.

2. Stop Multitasking – People think when they are doing a lot of different things at once they are getting a lot done. In reality, they are often getting a lot of things done poorly.

We studied the lives and practices of more than 130 innovators. Most were very successful at not only being creative, but also at being productive. Those that were very creative, but who struggled with productivity, found others to help them and take care of some of the vital, but more mundane tasks. So, while turning your inspiration into innovation, take time to make sure your perspiration is productive. It may be your key to genius.

This blog was originally posted August 21, 2013


October 23, 2014

Innovation is Not Just for Techies

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

For several generations, possibly always, people have thought that their world is the most modern of all time.  They see the changes around them and think the world the live in is better than what came before them.

In our day, we see technological innovation as the driving force of progress, but there are many other areas where important innovations takes place.  Today I want to introduce you to one, baby soap. Soap is about as far away from tech as I could think of, but still can be a very innovative area. Innovation happens at Apple or Google and changes our lives for the better.  But, significant improvements also occur far from the electronics industries.

When we talk to people about being innovative, they often say they want to make an app or work with the engineering or IT departments. While these are often excellent ideas, sometimes we can find innovation closer to home, like maybe better soap.

Take a look at this commercial about soap and see how what appears to be a simple non-technical innovation can be very powerful in the life of an individual. Plus, it is an interesting “old” commercial that would have seemed very modern at the time.  So keep looking for inspiration for innovation, it could be anywhere, even when you do your wash.

October 16, 2014

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.

This Blog was originally published September 25, 2013

October 3, 2014

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.

This blog was originally posted March 6, 2013