Edison and Innovation Blog

Learning Innovation from Thomas A. Edison
February 27, 2015

Can you discover your innovation?

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

We believe in the power of discovery learning. We would rather guide someone through the process of innovation than talk about it. Talk and knowledge are important, but experience is key. Everyone has had different education and experiences that have prepared them for where they are today. Your life path gives you a unique view of the world. Taking time to learn from your experiences can be a key to success.

Discovery LearningEdison stated, “You cannot put a price on the knowledge gained by children when they are allowed to see something with their own eyes, such as a cocoon breaking open and a butterfly emerging.”   I once worked with some young engineers who were fresh out of college. They were smart, full of energy, and unfortunately they were struggling to do the work assigned to them.   After some discussion it was decided that they needed to spend time in the field doing very basic things, including putting on some work gloves and turning a wrench. They did not understand that some of their great ideas, had very difficult practical application. After the time in the field, their ideas improved and they were a greater asset to the organization.

Many innovations come from observing the world around us and then discovering an innovation. For example, Velcro was discovered from watching seeds stick on pants after a walk in a field. We see things every day that can be learning experiences for us. Here are three steps in discovery learning that you can use in your life.

  1. Observe – “In regard to things I have never seen before, I would rather examine something myself for even a brief moment rather than listen to somebody tell me about it for two hours.” – Thomas Edison
  2. Reflect – Without reflecting on your experiences, they are just moments in time. With reflection and thought they can become life changing events.
  3. Apply – Take what you have reflected on and do something with it. Give it a try. Often your success or failure are not as important as the effort. Either way you have something new to observe and reflect upon. Edison explained, “I can never find the things that work best until I know the things that don’t work.”

The world is a laboratory that we work in every day. We can just have experiences or, we can take time and discover what we can learn from them. We may be able to observe and learn what is needed for our innovation or any other problem we face.

February 18, 2015

Do you have more than a Vision of Innovation?

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

People talk about having a culture of innovation, or of a company becoming more innovative.  What does this mean? Unfortunately, much of the time it means talking about innovation, but not doing what it takes to make a difference. Having a desire and recognizing the need to innovate is a first step, but you need to take action.

Edison stated, “I have more respect for the fellow with a single idea who gets there than for the fellow with a thousand ideas who does nothing.” Take your vision or new idea and work on it. Find people that can help you. Making new ideas work and creating new products is usually a team sport.  If you are working alone or need help, go out and find some teammates. This will make all the difference.

If you are not sure what to do next, watch the following video. Take what you learn from the leader and do the opposite.  It could be the key to your innovation.

February 11, 2015

Immerse Yourself in the World of Thomas Edison

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

Thomas Edison was born on February 11, 1847, and today is the 168 year anniversary of his birth. Today’s blog introduces us into Edison’s world of innovation.

One way we all can learn how to become more innovative is by studying the lives of innovators. We have studied the lives of over one hundred and twenty-five innovators. While there are many similarities, you can learn something new from each one and their individual approaches to their problems and issues. You probably don’t have time to look at hundreds of innovators, so if you have time to look at just one, we recommend Thomas Edison.

Thanks to the work of many historians and others through the years, we have an incredible amount of information about Edison and his inventions. Through books and other media you can study his life and his approaches to innovation. We also highly recommend going to the historical sites that preserve his legacy, if you can. Here you can immerse yourself in his world and gain insights into the life of the greatest of all innovators.

In addition to the laboratory, the historical site includes the Edison home in West Orange, NJ. This is a very important part of your visit–to be able to immerse yourself into his personal life. It shows that Edison had to struggle to balance his personal life with his professional life. It will also help you see him as a real person who led a remarkable life.

These and other Edison historical sites allow you to get a little deeper into Edison’s life and his innovations. Reading books and stories about him is very helpful, but to walk where he walked and see where he worked provides unique insights. Now, we don’t all have time or resources to make a personal visit to the Edison sites, but there is another way to immerse yourself in his world of invention. That’s through your imagination. If you take the time to study, and then imagine yourself there in his world, you can also gain valuable insights. So, we recommend that you take time to immerse yourself in a world of innovation by using your imagination.


This blog was originally posted September 20, 2011

February 3, 2015

Do you use your creativity?

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

Everyone cannot be Thomas Edison. Edison was able to innovate in different disciplines and fields in ways that few others have even been able to come close to. But to improve our innovation skills we don’t need to be Edison, we just need to be able to learn some of the traits and skills he mastered.

One of these skills is creativity. Many people say, “I can’t do that, I’m not creative” or “I can’t do that, I don’t have the talent.” Other people may have more talent, or more experience in being creative, but that misses the point. Every person has seeds of creativity inside of them. Every person can become more creative. Where you are is often not as important as where you are going and the steps you are taking to get there.

The following video is about how to have better creative thinking. If you watch, understand and apply what it talks about, you can be more creative tomorrow and then more the next day. Becoming a little better each day may be all you need to succeed in your innovation.