Edison and Innovation Blog

Learning Innovation from Thomas A. Edison
February 17, 2017

Why is there a Star Wars character in my Shower?

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

Star Wars in my ShowerRecently while I was taking a shower, I turned around and there was Kylo Ren from Star Wars: The Force Awakens standing there in my shower. He was had his light saber drawn and looked ready to fight. Fortunately for me, it was not actually him, but rather a picture of him on a new bottle of shampoo. I looked down and thought, I need to try this, will it clean by hair better than other shampoos? Will it give me the force? Will it help me complete my training and become a Jedi Knight? To my disappointment, when I was done it only provided me with clean hair. No special force powers or other enhanced abilities.

When we have discussion with people about innovation, marketing often comes up. Many people see the process of marketing as creative, but not necessarily innovative. But often getting people to use a new or innovative product is as important as the product itself. So even if marketing is not innovative it is part of the innovative process.

George Lucas understood this intellectually or intuitively. When he made the original Star Wars he retained the rights to merchandising and the soundtrack. At the time movie merchandise and soundtracks were more of a promotion tool, and the studios hoped to break even rather than another source of revenue. Lucas was more innovative in his approach and was able to make millions, and then billions by using the movie to promote the merchandise and the merchandise to promote the movie. Both areas became highly profitable.

So, was putting a popular movie character on a bottle of shampoo innovative? Is this even the correct question? Is the more important question, does putting a popular movie character on a bottle of shampoo increase sales? As I thought about these things, I came to a different conclusion. I looked at the process from the my point of view, the consumer. We purchased this product to encourage a seven-year-old boy to actually use shampoo instead of just standing in the shower for a while and then yell, “I’M DONE.” Nobody wants to go through the discussion with a wet child on whether or not they really used soap. The next thing you know you are smelling wet hair, and then sending them back in to finish the job. If any product or package can help with this, even if it is not necessarily innovative, it is definitely appreciated. So, when you work with a product or process, spend some time thinking about the marketing and packaging. This may be what you need to have to get others to use your innovation.

January 8, 2016

Do or do not . . . there is no fail

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

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, has set box office records. The director, JJ Abrams, did something that has application to innovation. To make something new he went back to the basics. He went back and drew inspiration and the look from the original trilogy. To be innovative he did not just look forward, but he also drew on the past to create something new and exciting.

Edison might have said, "Do or do not, there is no fail."This is not the only lesson we can learn from Star Wars. We can also learn from one of the sayings of Master Yoda, “Do or do not, there is no try.” Edison would have liked that quote. It captures the spirit that he applied in his work, but he might have said it differently. He might have said, “Do or do not, there is no fail.”

Edison had a different perspective on failure than most people, and that is one of the reasons that he was successful. What some people call failure, he sometimes called negative results. “I never quit until I get what I’m after. Negative results are just what I’m after. They are just as valuable to me as positive results,” Edison explained. By learning from negative experiences, he made every attempt valuable. The only true failure would be not to try and then to have no result to examine.

So do what you need to do to move forward your innovation. As long and you learn from your result there will not be failure and you will progress towards success in your innovation.