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Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

Innovate Like Edison


“Every organization – not just business – needs one core competence: INNOVATION.” Peter Drucker.

Michael Gelb is one of my favorite authors/thinkers. HOW TO THINK LIKE LEONARDO DA VINCI, DISCOVER YOUR GENIUS, MORE BALLS THAN HANDS.

Been reading INNOVATE LIKE EDISON: FIVE-STEP SYSTEM FOR BREAKTHROUGH BUSINESS SUCCESS, that he wrote with Sara Miller Caldicott.

Soooooo much good stuff…

Gelb says that Edison had a comprehensive approach to innovation:

  • Addressed major market needs.
  • Formed multidisciplinary teams.
  • Created companies to produce the products.
  • And, developed business models to monetize them.

Gelb and Calicott build the book around five competencies of innovation, defining the word ‘competency‘ as a “bundle of skills that must be mastered to achieve success in a particular area of endeavor”.

Edison’s five competencies of innovation are:

  1. Solution-Centered Mindset.

    ‘Solution’. Root word solvere, meaning “to loosen or set free”. Edison’s attitude was that success was inevitable… and became a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy!

  2. Kaleidoscopic Thinking.

    Edison said he’d like to live 300 years because he had enough ideas to keep him busy that long! Kaleidoscopic thinking was his approach to massive idea generation. The elements included in this section include maintain a notebook(!) and express ideas visually(!).

  3. Full Spectrum Engagement.

    Edison’s ability to get into the ‘flow‘ and become fully engaged was legendary. ‘Flow‘ is Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s wonderful state where time disappears, distractions vanish and there is intense but effortless involvement in the present moment. (Seek flow. When it happens, it’s amazing.)

    Note: Edison fueled his ‘flow state’ with solitude!

  4. Mastermind Collaboration.

    I first read about the ‘mastermind’ concept in 1977 in Napoleon Hill’s Think & Grow Rich and then Laws of Success. Edison was the shining (pun somewhat intended) example of mastermind collaboration from his inner circle to his talented team working on hundreds of projects at the same time. Edison was a master at this.

  5. Super-Value Creation.

    I’m not trying to re-write this great book, but just think about these five elements of super-value creation.

    • Link market trends with core strengths.
    • Tune into your target audience.
    • Apply the right business model.
    • Understand scale up.
    • Create an unforgettable market-moving brand.

Closing Thought. How’s this for a legacy: Thomas Edison invented systemic innovation! More than lighting or the phonograph and hundreds of other breakthroughs, Edison’s greatest legacy is the method that he showed the world on how to apply a process and culture of innovation to create unprecedented valued.

“There’s always a way to do it better. Find it.” Thomas Edison

***Remember, if Edison had had an MBA… we’d be reading by LARGER candles!