Edison and Innovation Blog

Learning Innovation from Thomas A. Edison
August 29, 2016

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 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.

This blog was originally posted September 4, 2015

August 11, 2016

Olympics and Innovation

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

The Olympics are in full swing and there are a number of amazing stories as some athletes go for the gold medal and others are just happy to participate. You may not have realized it, but there has been a lot of innovation at the Olympics over the years. For example, equipment has been improved and training methods have changed in ways that give athletes greater opportunities for victory.

Today, we have a video presentation by Peter Vidmar, winner of two gold medals and a silver medal in gymnastics in 984. In this video Mr. Vidmar talks about change and innovation in his sport. The principle he addresses can apply to many different types of innovations. Examples of innovation are everywhere. So, the next time you watch the Olympics or any other event, look for inspiration. You may not win a gold medal, but you may find a key to success in your innovation.

The blog was originally posted August 8, 2012

August 4, 2016

Breaking the Rules of Innovation

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

It has been said that in order to break the rules you have to know the rules. One of the things that holds back innovation is not understanding the related laws that exist. Understanding the legal, economic and physical laws is often necessary to create a tangible advancement. Here are three examples where understanding the realities of the world makes the innovation process more effective.

Laws of InnovationA few years ago I was in a discussion with an inventor about a cool new approach to dealing with data. He had spent a lot of time and money developing the related software. There was one problem; there were several related copyright issues. The issues essentially made the product useless. Not spending time to understand the legalities destroyed this opportunity for innovation.

Successful innovators also understand basic laws of economics. One law is almost universally understood. A business, or innovation has to eventually make money or it will not survive. Edison showed that he understood this principle when he stated, “Anything that won’t sell, I don’t want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success.” A creative idea that you can’t sell is not an innovation, it is just a creative idea.

Possibly the most famous innovation that does not yet exist is the hover board from the movie “Back to the Future II”. By 2015 skateboards were to be replaced with hover boards and we would be floating across the ground. People have been working on this innovation for a long time. While progress has been made, we still cannot float across the parking lot. Who will be able to develop this innovation: It will be he person who clearly understands the law that his product is working against–the Law of Gravity. You are not going to be able to break this law, but the solution may come in working around it, or maybe bending it. Success may even come from using the law that appears to be stacked against you to your advantage.

Spend some time learning the principles and laws that govern your area of innovation. Understand the laws or parameters that you have to work in, but look out for rules that are just conventional wisdom. These are the rules that are broken by innovators. Understanding the difference between the two may be a key to your successful innovation.

This blog was originally posted July 16, 2015