EDISON ON INNOVATION
"There is no question that Edison was and remains the name–brand marquee inventive genius a ′modern Prometheus′ no less or, at the very least, the ′Wizard of Menlo Park.′ And that is precisely the problem. Geniuses may create any number of wonderful things, but otherwise they′re really of no use to the rest of us the non–geniuses." From the Preface
But what if Edison was no genius? What if he just acted like one? And what if we all could follow his example?
In this fascinating exploration of one of the most celebrated and innovative minds, best–selling author Alan Axelrod cuts through the myths and reverence surrounding Edison′s "genius" to show how the inventor was, in fact, an ordinary man who created extraordinary work. While many of us believe that creativity, like genius, is something that just happens by chance or destiny, Edison′s life demonstrates that creativity of the very highest order can indeed be summoned up at will, and even reduced to a reliable working method and set of principles.
In contrast to many creative prodigies, Edison worked by "open" methods, making his processes relatively easy to study and emulate. Using Edison′s own diaries, papers, and modern studies of his work, Axelrod draws out time–tested principles that can be applied by even the least creative among us. Edison on Innovation presents 102 key lessons, including
- Experiment with everything
- Embrace problems
- Start small, scale up
- Innovate without inventing
- Learn the market
- Create new uses for whatever you have
- Plan for spontaneity
- Make the problem the solution
Edison on Innovation serves as a revelation to anyone who needs or wants to be creative on demand and for anyone whose business requires the continual creation of new ideas and the practical realization of the best of them.
Lesson 1: Stop Thinking and Act Like a Genius.
1. Life Story of a Middle American.
2. Getting Your Hands Dirty.
Lesson 2: Experiment with Everything.
Lesson 3: Become a Boy of the Nineteenth Century.
Lesson 4: Knowing.
Lesson 5: See It.
Lesson 6: Working Bottom Up.
Lesson 7: Do the Thing Itself.
Lesson 8: Cut and Try.
Lesson 9: Know Properties, Not Theories.
Lesson 10: Understand Hands–On: Touch Everything.
Lesson 11: Miss No Detail.
Lesson 12: Know What s Going on Inside.
3. How to Use Everything.
Lesson 13: Profi t from Disability.
Lesson 14: Lose No Idea.
Lesson 15: Be Exhaustive.
Lesson 16: Appreciate Your Ignorance.
Lesson 17: Sharpen Your Tools.
Lesson 18: Embrace Problems.
Lesson 19: Problems Are Directions.
Lesson 20: The Limits of the Problem Approach.
Lesson 21: Use Disaster.
Lesson 22: No Experiments Are Useless .
Lesson 23: Fertile Failure.
Lesson 24: Make Defects Their Own Remedy.
Lesson 25: The Ideal Executive.
Lesson 26: Insure the Permanency of an Investment.
Lesson 27: Invest in Assets.
Lesson 28: Start Small, Scale Up.
Lesson 29: Build an Invention Factory.
Lesson 30: Support the Shop.
Lesson 31: Build on the Weakest Points.
Lesson 32: Become a Collector.
Lesson 33: Take a Reverse Inventory.
Lesson 34: Identify Markets.
Lesson 35: Defi ne Yourself.
Lesson 36: Innovate Without Inventing.
Lesson 37: Inspire Confidence.
Lesson 38: Take the Credit.
Lesson 39: Be Legendary.
Lesson 40: Invent Systems.
Lesson 41: Think Bigger.
Lesson 42: Let Research Lead.
Lesson 43: Don t Stop Experimenting.
Lesson 44: Invite Distraction.
Lesson 45: Time It.
Lesson 46: Imagine the Future.
Lesson 47: Get Between.
6. Creating Your Customers.
Lesson 48: Get the News.
Lesson 49: Give Praise to the Dissatisfi ed Customer.
Lesson 50: Educate the Customer.
Lesson 51: Learn the Market.
Lesson 52: Niche Thinking: Find a Small Space to Make It Big.
Lesson 53: Offer an Edge.
Lesson 54: Move into a More Hospitable Environment.
Lesson 55: Sell Innovation.
Lesson 56: The Limits of Innovation.
Lesson 57: Become a Brand.
Lesson 58: No Such Thing as Overproduction.
7. Making Rain.
Lesson 59: Be Skeptical, Never Cynical.
Lesson 60: Get the Biggest Picture.
Lesson 61: Design What You Need.
Lesson 62: Create New Uses for Whatever You Have.
Lesson 63: Guard Against Results .
Lesson 64: Exploit the Unexpected.
8. Grinding It Out.
Lesson 65: Learn a Lesson from The Temperate Life.
Lesson 66: Know the Known.
Lesson 67: Want Some Real Labor? Try Thinking.
Lesson 68: Genius Is 1 Percent Inspiration and 99 Percent Perspiration .
Lesson 69: Work the Problem.
Lesson 70: Redesign.
Lesson 71: Don t Stop with Version 1.
Lesson 72: The Two Masters.
Lesson 73: Try a Kaleidoscopic Approach.
Lesson 74: Exploit the Details.
Lesson 75: Speed.
Lesson 76: Plod.
Lesson 77: Unlimited Incentive.
Lesson 78: If At First You Do Succeed, Try Again Anyway.
Lesson 79: Never Neglect Logistics.
Lesson 80: Mean to Succeed .
Lesson 81: Plan for Spontaneity.
Lesson 82: Create a Shop.
Lesson 83: Start a School.
Lesson 84: Make Creativity a Predictable Process.
Lesson 85: Create Standards.
Lesson 86: Subdivide, Delegate, Empower.
Lesson 87: Harvest Complaints.
Lesson 88: Favor Fluid Structures.
Lesson 89: Keep Score.
10. Faking Genius.
Lesson 90: Model It.
Lesson 91: Get on the Train.
Lesson 92: To Innovate, Imitate.
Lesson 93: Do It Better.
Lesson 94: Create by Analogy.
Lesson 95: Make the Problem the Solution.
Lesson 96: Analogy Again.
Lesson 97: Another Problem, Another Solution.
Lesson 98: New Wholes from Old Parts.
Lesson 99: Better to Elaborate Than Replace?
Lesson 100: Prefer Evolution to Revolution.
Lesson 101: Make the New Familiar.
Lesson 102: Work Beyond the Cutting Edge.
Appendix One: An Edison Chronology.
Appendix Two: Two Hundred Representative Patents.
Appendix Three: Suggested Reading.