Are you one of those people who hear the clock ticking, relentlessly squeezing your productive time? Thomas Edison sure did. He had a keen sense of how fast time was moving; knowing that with each tick of the clock, competition was edging closer.
“The thing with which I lose patience most is the clock. Its hands move too fast”
His incredible legacy of team-based invention, which led to the invention factory concept, later to be popularly known as commercial R&D labs, has two great advantages….first, it codifies new product development into a repeatable sequence of steps-thereby extending indefinitely the industrial revolution of the late 1880s, right on up to current times. Second, it allows an incredibly fertile mind like Edison to multiplex his interests and skills across many project teams-which in Edison’s case usually kept 30-40 teams continuously busy with new inventions. In a way, the invention factory was a way to cheat that relentless clock he heard so clearly.
“The only time I become discouraged is when I think of all the things I like to do and the little time I have in which to do them”
Edison embodied this preoccupation with time with a stretch goal for his teams-often challenging them to come up with a minor invention every ten days and a major one every 3-6 months. Every night in the quiet of his home library, Edison would develop new ideas to be prototyped in his labs. His children would help him find important information from his many technical books, looking through the books and placing bits of paper where Papa could find what he was looking for.