Edison and Innovation Blog

Learning Innovation from Thomas A. Edison
January 5, 2017

The Work and Play of Innovation

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

Most people believe they work hard, or at least they say they work hard. But there is a secret to working hard, and working harder than everyone else.

I have long admired Kobe Bryant’s work ethic. He is a gifted athlete who works harder than most other athletes. How hard does he work? The video below gives some of the details. He started back in high school and has continued on the path of hard work to this day.

What causes some people to be willing to work this hard? How do you develop this passion?  Steve Jobs explains in the video below that you have to love what you are doing.  Then you will have the passion and drive to work hard when others might quit. This drive will get you through the difficult times that will surely come.

Edison loved to invent. That was his passion. He described the work in his laboratory this way, “I derive more benefit and entertainment from this than some of my friends and competitors get from playing games like golf.” His work was his play and his passion.

So, do you want to know the secret to hard work? Find what you like to do and are passionate about.  Then the work will feel like play, and this will be how you find success in your innovation.

This blog was originally posted on January 15, 2016

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September 28, 2016

The Need of Innovation: Are innovators leaders? Part 3

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

Steve Jobs with ipadIn today’s world we face economic, political and social uncertainty and change. It is imperative that individuals, companies, governments and other organizations find new, creative and innovative solutions to new and difficult problems. This is why innovation is such a critical part of leadership. Steve Jobs stated, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” If leaders are not willing to look for innovative solutions, they may simply be left behind.

Not all leadership situations may require innovation, but leaders must at least be able to decide if innovation is necessary. Timing is an important part of leadership. The leader must assess the needs in a given situation and then act at the appropriate moment. There are several needs that must be met by a leader in regards to innovation.

1. The need for the leader who can innovate and foster innovation. Innovators often become leaders out of necessity. To take an innovation to fruition, the creator must often be the one who coordinates and leads the entire innovation process. Also, many leaders can only succeed if they can create an environment where people will create new and better ways for the company to function and produce better products. To succeed they must adopt the statement by Walt Disney, “I believe in being an innovator.”

2. The need for the organization that leads by innovation. Breaking into a new market requires innovation. Companies that can innovate become the market leaders and often can only stay at the top as long as they continue to innovate. Peter Drucker stated that, “Business has only two basic functions – marketing and innovation.” To be successful you must excel at both.

3. The need for the leader who knows when to innovate and when not to innovate. Not every situation requires a new and exciting solution. The leader must be able to recognize when a tried and true approach is appropriate, and when to introduce a new innovative idea or product.

Learning to lead innovation may be as important as the innovation itself. Without recognizing the need for proper leadership many an idea or product has simply died on the road to success. So, as you look to innovate, look to see who is going to lead the process. Finding the proper leader may just be the key to success in your innovation.

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January 15, 2016

The Work and Play of Innovation

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

Most people believe they work hard, or at least they say they work hard. But there is a secret to working hard, and working harder than everyone else.

I have long admired Kobe Bryant’s work ethic. He is a gifted athlete who works harder than most other athletes. How hard does he work? The video below gives some of the details. He started back in high school and has continued on the path of hard work to this day.

What causes some people to be willing to work this hard? How do you develop this passion?  Steve Jobs explains in the video below that you have to love what you are doing.  Then you will have the passion and drive to work hard when others might quit. This drive will get you through the difficult times that will surely come.

Edison loved to invent. That was his passion. He described the work in his laboratory this way, “I derive more benefit and entertainment from this than some of my friends and competitors get from playing games like golf.” His work was his play and his passion.

So, do you want to know the secret to hard work? Find what you like to do and are passionate about.  Then the work will feel like play, and this will be how you find success in your innovation.

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July 24, 2014

The Simplicity of Innovation

Author: Don Mangum, Jr. - Categories: Steve Jobs - Tags:

Innovation does not have to be complicated, it just has to improve and be something new. Often innovative ideas that are heading in a good direction get derailed under the weight of complications.

In the video below, Walter Isaacson, author of the book “Steve Jobs”, provides some insights into how Jobs looked for simplicity in his innovations. Steve Jobs wanted to make the user experience as simple as possible. He looked at the interface, how the device felt, and how he could make it easier to use.

Look at your innovation. Is it too complicated? Can you make it simpler in design and easier for the end user? Follow Steve Jobs example and you may find that simplicity is the answer you need for your innovation.

This blog was originally posted July 10, 2013

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June 18, 2013

Innovation, Leadership and your Career

Author: Don Mangum, Jr. - Categories: Innovators, Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison - Tags: , ,

In this blog and in our innovation programs we don’t emphasize leadership. But leadership and innovation are tied closely together. Steve Jobs stated that “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” In fact, all successful innovators are leaders. In addition, innovation is a key for a company to be a leader in the marketplace.

That innovation leads to market leadership is easy to see. The iPad is the best current example of how innovation can create a market leader. The iPad was able to get into the tablet market first and everyone else is still trying to catch up.

Innovation creates leaders. For the most part, the study of innovators is the study of leaders. To take your invention to market you will almost always need a team, and teams need leaders. Edison is thought of as an innovator, rather than a leader. But, he led everything from small research teams to multinational corporations.

So as you take time to improve your ability to innovate, look at yourself, your company or your team. Are you prepared to lead innovation? Improving your leadership may be the part of innovation that you are missing and the key to your success.

This blog was originally published March 19, 2012

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April 16, 2013

Three Years of Blogging about Edison and Innovation

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

Three years ago this week Norwell Consulting began blogging with Thomas Edison and Innovation in mind.  In our first post we stated that, “Our articles will contain practical suggestions that are applicable to what our readers do every day.  We hope you find it useful and interesting.”  From our point of view we have been very successful.  The first week the blog was read by only a few clients and family members.  Now, more people read the blog each day than did in the first month, and each post is read by people from all over the world. 

We thought this week we would look back at some of our favorite posts from the last three years.  If you have not read them before, or even if you have, go take a look.  You will be glad that you did.

Edison and other innovators have a lot to teach us.  Here Time Magazine tells us why.

Why Is Edison Relevant Today?

Steve Jobs may be the closest example we have to a modern day Edison.

Steve Jobs:  Looking Into Your Future

Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison–World Class Innovators

Learning about and becoming more innovative can be fun.  Here is an example.

Getting into the Habit of Innovation

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March 19, 2012

Innovation, Leadership and your Career

Author: Don Mangum, Jr. - Categories: Innovators, Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison - Tags: , ,

In this blog and in our innovation programs we don’t emphasize leadership.  But leadership and innovation are tied closely together.  Steve Jobs stated that “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”   In fact, all successful innovators are leaders.  In addition, innovation is a key for a company to be a leader in the marketplace. 

That innovation leads to market leadership is easy to see.  The iPad is the best current example of how innovation can create a market leader.  The iPad was able to get into the tablet market first and everyone else is still trying to catch up. 

Innovation creates leaders.  For the most part, the study of innovators is the study of leaders.  To take your invention to market you will almost always need a team, and teams need leaders.  Edison is thought of as an innovator, rather than a leader.  But, he led everything from small research teams to multinational corporations.

So as you take time to improve your ability to innovate, look at yourself, your company or your team.  Are you prepared to lead innovation?  Improving your leadership may be the part of innovation that you are missing and the key to your success.

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November 1, 2011

Steve Jobs: Looking Into Your Future

Author: Don Mangum - Categories: Steve Jobs - Tags:

In 2005, Steve Jobs gave the commencement address at Stanford University.  It has since become a widely quoted speech and can be found on many internet sites. 

He told his audience that at the age of 17 he read a quote that went something like, “If you live everyday as if it were your last, some day you’ll be right.”  He went on to explain that for the next 33 years he looked in the mirror every morning and asked himself, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?  If the answer is ‘NO’ too many times in a row, I know I need to change something.”

What is the value of this routine?  He explained, “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.”

Steve Jobs had a reason for including these thoughts about death in his address.  In 2004, a year earlier, at the young age of 49, he stepped to the edge of that precipice for the first time.  He was diagnosed with a type of pancreatic cancer that was most likely incurable.  The doctors told him he probably had only three to six months to live.  Fortunately, it turned out to be a rare form of pancreatic cancer that could be cured by surgery.  He had the surgery and thought he was fine at the time he spoke at Stanford.  Having had some time for reflection, he told his audience, “This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades.”

Seven years have passed since Steve Jobs gave this stirring address.  By now, we know that his life has indeed come to an end.  He left a legacy of innovation matched by few others.  In the poignant sentences that concluded his remarks, he reached out with sage advice that should be tacked to the door of all those who are and aspire to be innovators:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

 

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October 7, 2011

Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison–World Class Innovators

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

With the loss of Steve Jobs, we thought it would be fitting to re-post a blog we posted last year titled, “From One World-Class Innovator to Another.”  Both Edison and Jobs give us great examples to emulate in our quest to become more innovative.

From One World-Class Innovator to Another

Originally posted June 16, 2010

Steve Jobs is the co-founder, inventor and chief executive officer of Apple. He also previously served as chief executive of Pixar Animation Studios and is now a member of the board of The Walt Disney Company. He has a lot in common with Thomas Edison as these quotes illustrate.

1. Steve Jobs said: “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

I have on my bookshelf dozens of biographies of leaders I respect: They include, Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Churchill, Schwarzkopf, Gorbachev, Gandhi, Joshua Chamberlain of Gettysburg, Thomas Edison, the Watson’s of IBM, etc. These men were innovative geniuses and great leaders. It might even be said that innovation demands leadership, or leaders. Without leaders, innovation would be reduced to only an unfulfilled idea or ambition. It seems that great leaders arise when critical needs are met with innovative solutions. And so I wonder, what is happening around you that requires an innovative solution. If you seize the opportunity, then you are or will become a leader.

2. Steve Jobs said: “We think basically you watch television to turn your brain off, and you work on your computer when you want to turn your brain on.”

At a recent Edison Event, several people challenged themselves to take steps to ensure they have personal time. Turn off the phone for a time, don’t accept calls for an hour or two, no emails for a set time, listen to good music, frequently shut off the TV in the evening, were among many recommend actions to keep the brain more active and creative. Sometimes the computer can become a distraction as well. It takes effort to ensure that you have some peace and quiet, but it can be done.

3. Steve Jobs said: “There’s a phrase in Buddhism, ‘Beginner’s mind.’ It’s wonderful to have a beginner’s mind.”

Another way to say “beginner” is “child-like.” One of the challenges of a maturing adult is to maintain a “beginners mind.” What are threats to a “beginners mind”? There are many.  Some very common threats include:  1. Successful patterns of behavior; 2. The certainty that comes from experience; 3.  Routine familiarity with our surroundings; and 4. A bureaucratic culture.  Edison said 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.” Fostering a “beginners mind” is a important step toward continuous innovation.

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May 3, 2011

Don’t Skip a Step

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

Apple has become one of the most innovative companies around. Their products such as the iPod, iPhone and the iPad led the way into new areas. But not every product Apple has produced has been a success. Before all of these other successful products was an unsuccessful product, the Apple Newton.

Apple's Newton and an iPhone

The Newton products were the first PDAs (Personal Data Assistant) and tablet computers. If you look at what the Newton could do it is very similar to the PDAs, smartphones and tablet computers of today. But in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, Newtons never took off and were never successful products. The question is why did the Newton not succeed when similar products have succeeded since?

The answer may be that Apple tried to skip steps of innovation that are difficult if not impossible to skip. These steps occur in two areas, the technology and the marketplace. The following video explains this principle very well in asking the question, “Why don’t we have flying cars?” After viewing the video ask yourself, “How is this principle at play as I try to innovate?”

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