What was the most significant innovation of Thomas Edison? Some may say it was the distribution of electricity and incandescent lamp. Others may say it was the phonograph. I belong to Henry Ford club who believed that his method of innovation was as significant a contribution as his direct contributions such as lamp, phonograph etc. Let’s look at
1. Establish the need: In the summer of 1878, Thomas Edison was watching a gang of miners drilling for ore with heavy tools when he was seized by a vision – the idea of energy moving as electricity over a long distance.
2. Find anchors to hang your imagination: In the same year (1878), Prof. Barker of
3. Know the known: Henry Ford writes
4. Establish goals & use-cases: Edison established top two requirements as follows: "I realized that an electric lamp to be commercially practical must of necessity bear a general comparison with a gas jet in at least two points: first, that it must give a moderate illumination, and, second, that such a lamp must be so devised that each one could be lighted and extinguished separately and independently of any others. With this basic idea in mind we resumed our experiments at once”. Subsequently he wrote an 8-point memo that articulated requirements and use-cases of the entire electricity distribution system (see page 20, Henry Ford).
5. Iterate over experiments:
6. Demonstrate prototypes to stakeholders: Between October and December 1879 hundreds of carbon lamps were made and put into use not only in his lab but also on the streets and several residences at
7. Commercialize: This is how
8. Manage a portfolio:
Source: Edison as I know him by Henry Ford.