Edison and Innovation Blog

Learning Innovation from Thomas A. Edison
February 11, 2017

The Wright Stuff for Innovation

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

Wright Brothers First FlightThe innovation of manned flight is truly remarkable.  So much can be learned as we watch the progress  from a few feet of flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, to a trip to the moon less than 70 years later.  One of the best ways to learn about this progress is to start with the Wright brothers and the beginning of the airplane.  I have studied these two brother’s history in the past, but recently a remarkable biography, The Wright Brothers by David McCullough was released.  It provides a compelling story to help us understand how Orville and Wilbur Wright changed history.

Often the stories about the struggle to invent and innovate provide lessons that are helpful for other innovator’s success. Here are three lessons that I learned from my recent reading of The Wright Brothers.

  1. It takes more than one person to innovate – The brothers were a remarkable team.  They built each other up and relied on each other’s strengths.  They also relied on many other people to help them be successful, not only in the beginning, but also as they formed a company and traveled the world promoting their airplane.  For example, Katharine, their sister, gave up her teaching position so that she could help them full time.  Her assistance was vital as they moved forward and moved from being inventors to having a fully organized company.
  2. Others will resist innovation and change – As the Wright’s were testing various approaches to flight they published some of their findings.  Some of the top people in the field thought the approach would not work, but if it did, there was no real way to commercialize flight.
  3. You don’t have to have the most resources to be the one that innovates – Shortly before the first flight the U.S. government had given a grant of over $50,000 to a group that was trying to create the first airplane.  They had a well publicized test flight that failed miserably.  The Wright brothers were able to fund their plane for about $1,000 from the profits they made building bicycles.

The other take away from the Wrights is that they just kept going.  They had major setbacks, but they just kept trying, learning and improving.  They were willing to take enough time to do it right, and also they had the drive to push to a successful finish.  So, take the time to learn from these flyers and you may develop the right stuff to complete your innovation.

This blog was originally posted January 29, 2016.

Share
January 29, 2016

The Wright Stuff for Innovation

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

Wright Brothers First FlightThe innovation of manned flight is truly remarkable.  So much can be learned as we watch the progress  from a few feet of flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, to a trip to the moon less than 70 years later.  One of the best ways to learn about this progress is to start with the Wright brothers and the beginning of the airplane.  I have studied these two brother’s history in the past, but recently a remarkable biography, The Wright Brothers by David McCullough was released.  It provides a compelling story to help us understand how Orville and Wilbur Wright changed history.

Often the stories about the struggle to invent and innovate provide lessons that are helpful for other innovator’s success. Here are three lessons that I learned from my recent reading of The Wright Brothers.

  1. It takes more than one person to innovate – The brothers were a remarkable team.  They built each other up and relied on each other’s strengths.  They also relied on many other people to help them be successful, not only in the beginning, but also as they formed a company and traveled the world promoting their airplane.  For example, Katharine, their sister, gave up her teaching position so that she could help them full time.  Her assistance was vital as they moved forward and moved from being inventors to having a fully organized company.
  2. Others will resist innovation and change – As the Wright’s were testing various approaches to flight they published some of their findings.  Some of the top people in the field thought the approach would not work, but if it did, there was no real way to commercialize flight.
  3. You don’t have to have the most resources to be the one that innovates – Shortly before the first flight the U.S. government had given a grant of over $50,000 to a group that was trying to create the first airplane.  They had a well publicized test flight that failed miserably.  The Wright brothers were able to fund their plane for about $1,000 from the profits they made building bicycles.

The other take away from the Wrights is that they just kept going.  They had major setbacks, but they just kept trying, learning and improving.  They were willing to take enough time to do it right, and also they had the drive to push to a successful finish.  So, take the time to learn from these flyers and you may develop the right stuff to complete your innovation.

 

Share
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.

Share
August 27, 2014

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.

Share
July 26, 2011

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.

Share
July 29, 2010

365 Books in 365 Days

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

Edison's Library in West Orange, NJ

Thomas Edison was known to have read widely on many subjects from chemistry to Shakespeare.  In his home, he often assigned his children reading projects that would help him at work.  His library at the lab contained more than 10,000 books.  Sometimes I’ve wondered how he was able to read so much.  I’ve recently discovered what may be a clue. 

On January 1 of this year my daughter, Rachel, a thirty-two year old educator in Arizona, embarked on a great learning journey.  After being inspired by discussions in books by authors Pat Williams and Jill Bolte-Taylor, Rachel set a goal to read 365 books in 365 days.  After almost 7 months, she is a little ahead of schedule.  She’s has already finished 215 books this year.  When I’ve talked with her about some of them, she seems to have retained a remarkable amount of information.  And, better yet, the reading has helped her improve her life.

She and I have many common interests.  I’ve made book suggestions for her list, most notably Bolte-Taylor’s, My Stroke of Insights, which she lists at #3 among her favorite books of the year.  She has also recommended and/or given me several books.  I recently asked her for a list of the books she has read this year on the subjects of creativity, innovation and the mind and her opinion about each one.  

Because so many of you are continuously seeking to improve your understanding of these topics, I thought it would be interesting for you to see her list.  Perhaps there are some here you would like to read.  The numbers shown in the fraction that follows the author’s name is her rating on a five-point scale.  I thought it interesting that these books were mostly ranked very high, but in the total list of 200+, the average rating is about 3.5.  The books are listed in the order she read them.  Here’s the list: 

22 Books on Creativity, Innovation and the Mind:  

  1. My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte-Taylor, 5/5.
  2. The Learning Brain by Eric Jensen, 4/5.
  3. Think Big by Ben Carson, 4/5.
  4. Five Minds for the Future by Howard Gardner 4/5.
  5. Big Moo edited by Seth Godin, 5/5.
  6. Made to Stick by Dan & Chip Heath, 5/5.
  7. A Whole New Mind  by Daniel Pink, 5/5.
  8. Open Focus Brain  by Les Fehmi and Jim Robbins, 5/5.
  9. The Woman Who Can’t Forget, by Jill Price, 5/5.
  10. Whack on the Side of the Head  by Roger VonOeck, 5/5.
  11. Mind Mapping Book Tony by Buzan 5/5.
  12. Use Both Sides of Your Brain by Tony Buzan, 4/5.
  13. Innumeracy by John Paulos. 4/5.
  14. The Use of Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono, 4/5.
  15. Creativity:  Flow & Psychology of Discovery & Invention—M. Csikszentmihalyi, 5/5.
  16. 59 Second Mind Map by Richard Konieczka, 5/5.
  17. Mind Set  by Carol Dweck, 5/5.
  18. How Bright is Your Brain? by Michael Dispezio, 5/5.
  19. Drive by Daniel Pink 5/5.
  20. Mistakes that Worked Charlotte Foltz Jones, 1/5.
  21. Brain Rules:  12 Rules for Surviving at Work, Home & School by John Modina, 5/5.
  22. Teaching with the Brain in Mind  by Eric Jensen, 5/5.

 If you’re curious about Rachel’s reading journey, you can check it out at:   

 http://thebookexperiment365.blogspot.com/

Share