Edison and Innovation Blog

Learning Innovation from Thomas A. Edison
June 29, 2016

Innovation in Summertime

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

It is the time of year when school gets out for summer and parents are looking for things to keep their children busy. If you are a parent with kids of school age, which I am, you can’t help but get into discussions with other parents about summer activities. These activities center in three areas, free time at home, camps, and vacations. All three of these areas can give us insight into how to be more innovative.

Kids with free time often play a lot. Play is a good thing. Play can be creative and use a lot of imagination. This time can also be wasted in the house staring at the TV and other noncreative activities. But for children and adults, taking time to do creative unstructured activities can increase our ability to exercise our imagination.

The number of different types of camps is amazing. There are music camps, church camps, sports camps, education camps and old fashion camp camps. What most of these camps have in common is that they are experienced based. These experiences can be very valuable. Edison put it this way, “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.” As innovators, we need to take the time to have experiences that expand our world and our ability to find creative solutions to our problems.

Vacations are often the highlight of summers for children and adults. Everyone Innovate your Summergets an opportunity to get way from what they normally do and try something new. Sometimes it is relaxing, and sometimes it is an adventure. Often it is a new experience where you can see or do something you have never done before. “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,” Edison stated. He often took vacations to see and experience new things. We can take from this the importance of getting away from the ordinary. Often finding time to relax and have different experiences is just what we need.

So here are three ideas that we can take from summertime that will make you more creative. They might be what you need to find success in you innovation.

  1. Create free time when you can play and use your imagination.
  2. Take time to experience new things.
  3. Get away from your routine and take a vacation.

This Blog was originally posted June 3, 2015

June 23, 2016

Can your organization be as creative as Pixar?

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

Pixar and InnovationPixar is an amazing, creative company. They have had a remarkable run of successful animated movies, from the “Toy Story” series to the recently released “Finding Dory.” One could make a good argument that they could be the most creative company in the world. Creativity and innovation are not synonymous, but creativity is a critical part of innovation. In addition to being creative, Pixar has been very innovative in their development of computer generated animation.

Recently, I read a book written by Ed Catmull, President of Pixar Animation and Disney Animation, titled “Creativity Inc.” In this book he talks about his experiences in the development of Pixar and overcoming obstacles to creativity. He shares a wealth of information.  I gained many useful lessons from his book. Here are three of the lessons I learned:

Three things:

  1. Even creative companies such as Pixar have to work to be creative. – One might think that if you have the right people and put them together, good things would happen. That is just the start. Creating and maintaining a creative environment is a constant struggle. Taking the time to look at simple things such as how people are seated at meetings can make a difference. The time invested in creating creativity is well worth it.
  2. As your organization gets larger, natural barriers get in the way of creativity. – What works when you have a handful of employees does not necessarily work when you have fifty or one hundred. Some of the processes you put in place when small, may actually be barriers as you grow larger. But it is possible to be a large creative organization, you just have to keep working at it.
  3. You can take steps to help your company become more creative and innovative. – This applies to all organizations. The world we live in today needs creative solutions to difficult problems. As Pixar grew, there were several moments when creativity could have been stifled. They were willing to make changes to continue being creative and innovative. If they can do it so can you in your organization.

Not every company is filled with artists that create stories and movies, but every organization needs some of that same creative spark to be successful. Keep working to be more creative as an individual and as  a group and you never know where it will take you. You may not find a blue fish, but you may find the success you need to pull off an innovation.

June 15, 2016

The Perspiration of Innovation

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

When Edison said “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration,” he was not just talking about the 10,000 attempts on the filament of the light bulb.  He was talking about all of the other work to get the idea from the mind of the inventor to actual use by the user. A lot of people have new and interesting ideas, but to be innovative you have to do a lot more. Often the creating, improving and refining of the product or process is just the beginning.

Being able to focus on gathering the necessary resources, collaborating with the right people and focusing on the end user can be more critical than the product itself. The goal is not just to come up with something new, but rather something new that will be used.

The video below shows how Edison worked and promoted himself and his ideas to be successful. Follow some of his example, and you just may be able to have a great innovation.

June 3, 2016

Innovating Fast or Slow

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

I can remember when I was a child seeing the home of the future. It had a number of cool electronic and other advances that seemed exciting and straight out of science fiction. In 1957 Disneyland had a home of the future in Tomorrowland that was unlike anything anyone was living in at the time (To see the home click here). We have been fascinated for a long time with how technology and innovation would change how we live at home.

So where are the homes of the future? Did the projected home of the future from six decades ago ever come to pass? Looking back it was easy to think that one day we would purchase a home that looked like a UFO and had all of these wonderful advances. In reality the changes happened slowly. Ideas that were very exciting, were not necessarily practical. Products that seemed innovative, sometimes are just different or are not accepted by consumers.

But looking back, the current home that I live in is starting to have a lot in common with that home of the future. The home environment is changing slowly. Patience is not a word often associated with innovation, but sometimes innovations cause immediate change, other times it can take much longer. Learning to understand the timing of our innovation may be what we need to find success.

Take a look at the following video to see some of the new technologies for a home or apartment, some of which were not even imagined in 1957. Sometimes the reality of the future can be better than the dream of the future.

This blog was originally posted June 19, 2015