Thomas Edison Pioneered Team-based Innovation

The very notion of “innovation” traces back to when Edison perfected his invention factory, later to morph into commercial R&D labs, team-based problem solving—a seismic and permanent worldwide economic shift .

Edison enjoying a meal with one of his teams at his legendary West Orange Labs.

Edison enjoying a meal with one of his teams at his legendary West Orange Labs.

Of all he invented, this was his most significant achievement. Before Edison died in 1931, every major corporation adopted this powerful innovation tool; and it remains fundamental to this day, whether a company does it in their own labs or joins in alliance with other labs.

R&D labs gave birth to legions of project managers who today manage and lead new product development teams all over the world-a process that creates jobs and whole new industries, and continually disrupts the status quo, the very heart beat of capitalism. It has been said of Edison that his life’s work has probably been responsible for one-fourth of all the jobs on planet Earth today; as well as account for 10% of the annual world economy … about $6 trillion.

Teams like this developed many of the new innovations at West Orange

Teams like this developed many of the new innovations at West Orange

General Electric had a powerful slogan back in the 1950s-“Progress is our most important product”. Edison is the fellow, in 1887, who unified progress with team-based innovation-exactly what we teach our children in school in STEM classes today. Thanks Tom!

Thomas Edison said, “I never perfected an invention that I did not think about in terms of the service it might give others… I find out what the world needs, then I proceed to invent …”

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

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