Saturday, October 20, 2007

Innovate Like Edison - 5 Step Process to Innovation

Excerpt from Fortune Small Business:

Throughout his career Edison used a five-step process to launch his inventions. To give you a taste of his approach, we use the example of Edison's first product, the stock ticker. His system is culled from historical documents and written as Edison might have noted them.

1. Identify trends in the marketplace, observing where and how needs are shifting. In 1868, I read in the newspapers that the rebuilding of the American South after the Civil War has sent commodities prices rising, since demand for lumber, brick, stone, and other building materials has increased and supplies are strained. The reporting of these prices - as well as the price of gold and precious metals - is eagerly sought by American businesses at an increasing rate.

2. Determine if there are any gaps created by these changing needs. I've noted that few efficient machines and few services exist to rapidly - and reliably - report commodities prices, precious-metals prices, and stock prices to businesses around the country.

3. Identify the core insight (the "aha!") or need at the heart of each gap. I think I can apply the principles of -telegraphy to make a machine that reports prices.

4. Link your insights to your capabilities as a company and your strengths and weaknesses in relation to your competitors. I can combine my talents for telegraph equipment assembly and design to develop price--reporting machines that operate rapidly and efficiently.

5. The hypothesis is an "if-then" proposal for a practical experiment about the goal you'd like to fulfill based on the linkage you've created. If I can build an efficient, reliable telegraph-like machine that can help businesses report commodities and metals prices all over the country, then I will make a significant profit.

The result? Edison's stock-reporting machine launched his career as a successful inventor and innovator.

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