Edison and Innovation Blog

Learning Innovation from Thomas A. Edison
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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June 16, 2010

From One World-Class Innovator to Another

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

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”? Successful patterns of behavior; certainty that comes from experience; routine familiarity with our surroundings; and a bureaucratic culture are among the common threats. 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.

Share