Edison on Innovation
Alan Axelrod
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Buy *Edison on Innovation: 102 Lessons in Creativity for Business and Beyond* by Alan Axelrod online

Edison on Innovation: 102 Lessons in Creativity for Business and Beyond
Alan Axelrod
192 pages
February 2008
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Thomas Edison did not consider himself a genius, but rather a person who thought about how to improve something or do it better: he was an innovator. Most of the time, his inventions came about by accident while researching some other project. He holds the record number of patents for a single person at 1,093. Many of these patents dealt with improving something that already existed.

In the introduction to Alan Axelrodís book 102 lessons on how Edison used creativity for business and how a person today can use his example to progress in business or even life, he says to stop thinking and act like a genius - which is lesson one.

Axelrod presents Edisonís biography in the first chapter then divides the remaining 101 lessons into nine chapters:

  1. Getting your hands dirty, lessons 2-12, which deal with getting to personally know about and have hands-on connection with projects.
  2. How to use everything, lessons 13-24, are about not wasting ideas or thinking that an experiment was a waste of time because it did not produce the desired result; it may produce something else, which happened many times in Edisonís case. He did not consider any project or experiment a failure but always learned something from it.
  3. Investing, lessons 25-32, is advice from Edison on how to invest - which does not only include money. He suggested starting small and building up.
  4. Entrepreneurship (lessons 33-47) - Edison encourages you to think big, identify markets, do research, experiment, and think about the future.
  5. Creating your customers. In lessons 48-58, Edison would encourage you to keep up on the news, the markets, and what customers want, educating the customer about new things by advertising and creating a brand.
  6. Making rain comprises lessons 59-64. Edison encourages one to be skeptical and never cynical - keep the big picture in mind, create new users of things, and exploit the unexpected.
  7. Grinding it out, lessons 65-78, is about continuing to work at things even if you succeed. Edison encourages improving on existing things.
  8. Managing, lessons 79-89. Edison managed his businesses and his projects. He wanted to hear complaints and critiques of his work, using these to improve what he was doing. He encouraged delegating, subdividing and empowering others to do things in his various businesses and projects. He felt this worked better than micromanaging everything.
  9. Faking genius is lessons 90-102, Edisonís ideas on how innovation is important to make progress in business and life.

Three appendices include a chronology of Edisonís life, 200 of his patents, and a suggested reading list, followed by an introduction to the author and an index. This book is recommended to those interested in Thomas Edison, his innovations and inventions, and to those wanting inspiration on how to improve their business life.

Alan Axelrod has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Iowa. He taught at Lake Forrest College, Lake Forest, Illinois, and at Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina. He has been involved in publishing in New York City and Atlanta. He founded in 1997 The Ian Samuel Group, a creative services and book-packaging firm. He is the author of Eisenhower on Leadership (2006), co-author with General Wesley Clark of Patton: A Biography (2006), and author of Patton on Leadership (2001). He is co-editor with Christopher DePree of the Van Nostrandís Concise Encyclopedia of Science (2003). Axelrod has written articles for Business Week, Inc, and Fortune.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Br. Benet Exton, O.S.B., 2008

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