Edison and Innovation Blog

Learning Innovation from Thomas A. Edison
September 29, 2015

Quiet Innovation

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

The world is full of background noise. It can be the constant hum of our lives that we hardly notice, but it does affect us. Do we notice that this noise disrupts us? I had a couple of experiences recently that caused me to think about it.

I live near a road that takes people out of my neighborhood and to the major street. A bus goes down that road about every 15 minutes. Recently, some major work is being done on a sewer line and the road is completely closed. All traffic and the bus route has been diverted. This will continue for several months. The day after the road was shut down, as I was getting into my car I noticed something did not feel right. I paused for a moment and then realized the noise was gone. My peaceful neighborhood had become even more peaceful.

Quiet life leads to InnovationThe second experience happened when my wife and I went to an appointment in the evening a few weeks ago. Our appointment was about an hour out of the city. We visited as we listened to quiet music during the trip. When we got to our destination we walked a short distance to the entrance. As we walked, my wife observed, “It is really peaceful here.” She was right. There was no noise from the city, no noise from animals or from anything else. Just a peaceful quiet.

Noise is often a distraction and distractions can keep us from our innovations, and other goals we have in our lives. Albert Einstein commented that, “The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.”

Creativity is so important, and yet we allow distractions to keep us from it. What is worse, we get so used to the distractions that we stop realizing they are often causing us to lose focus. So, take some time and look at the distractions in your life. You may not be able to remove them, but if you see them and limit them, you may find time for some of the quiet life that often leads to innovation.

This blog was originally posted September 25, 2014.

September 26, 2015

The Restlessness of Innovation

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

When I was growing up, my Father had an Edison quote on a plaque behind his desk. I have always remembered it. It was an abbreviated version of this quote:

“Pretty much everything will come to him who hustles while he waits. I believe that restlessness is discontent, and discontent is merely the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure.”

Edison's MuckersThis thought shows some of the keys of Edison’s success. He always kept moving and turned his discontent and frustrations into the beginnings of his successes. He was not satisfied with the way things were, or even with many of his inventions. He wanted to make them better. He did not rest on his laurels, but rather was always driven to do something new.

So, if you are struggling with your innovation, look to your restlessness and frustration and turn it into your first step to reach your goals. Not being satisfied may be what you need to create your innovation.

September 12, 2015

Reading is Fundamental

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

We all know that reading is important. The book Cradles of Eminence (Little, Brown and Company 1962), studied the childhood of over 700 famous men and women. One of the conclusions of this book is that almost without exception the parents of these children had a love for learning. This was not just learning at school , but self learning and understanding. Our own research shows that this is also true with individuals that are innovators.

At the laboratory and in his home Edison created learning environments. He had large libraries in both places. He also believed that learning came from observation. He said, “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.”

His quest for learning extended to his children, even when examining a work project. Edison’s son Theodore remembered, “…when Father was looking for something, why he would want us to look through all the references to some particular chemical. So we’d get these books and we’d work maybe until two o’clock in the morning, putting little slips of paper in the books and stacking them up on the table and then he would read through all these references to whatever he was looking up. The whole family sometimes was involved in that.”

Edison created a learning environment in his home and workplace. If we want to innovate like Edison we need to create these environments as well.

This Blog was originally posted November 15, 2010.

September 4, 2015

Innovation Changes History

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

Recently, I came across a list of 11 Innovations that Changed History on History.com. It listed innovations that were the catalysts for major changes in society and civilization. It included inventions such as the light bulb, compass, steel and the steam engine. Each of these opened up opportunities for additional changes and inventions.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe one innovation that really opened up the world to knowledge was the printing press. Knowledge is one of the vital ingredients of innovation. Edison possessed a large library of books of all types in order to access pages and pages of information that could be used for inspiration or  to deduce the answers to the issues in front of him.

Today we not only have access to books, but also, thanks to the internet, we have a seemingly limitless supply of information. The internet is a descendant of the printing press. We even call what we look at pages or webpages. So ask yourself, am I using the benefits of the printing press? Am I using the information that I have access to? The information is out there to change the history of your innovation.