Edison Style, Diversity and Invention

Edison Could Work at Google!Project managers know that a good mix of ideas from people with differing backgrounds and cultures goes a long way toward developing exciting and new inventions. It’s the soft side of team-based inventing, and it works. That, and a low flat organizational structure, promotes people interacting both horizontally and vertically-freely gaining new insights from the work of others, and using those insights in unique, sometimes disruptive ways.

The political world talks a great deal about diversity, but for as long as Edison created his project team concept and implemented his invention factory model for R&D [back in the 1870s/80s], diversity has been a staple of life for he and the many other inventors and entrepreneurs that followed—a kind of built-in humanitarian aspect of the inventive life.

Unfortunately, we don’t often think about inventors as humanitarians and champions of diversity. We callously spin them off as boring geeks and narrow-minded people, mocking them in movies [often forgetting that Edison created the movie industry]. These inventive men and women tend to see the world of ideas as totally neutral.

Just go to any technical conference or gathering of entrepreneurs and witness the huge diversity of men and women sharing ideas, technology, and partnering on new ventures. That, dear readers, is diversity in action; and that is what Edison was all about.

Thomas Edison said, “My desire is to do everything within my power to free people from drudgery and create the largest measure of happiness and prosperity.”

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

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