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To Invent Like Edison, Learn to Collaborate
6/10/2013

Midnight Lunch encourages innovators to follow Edison's penchant for collaboration.   (Source: Wiley)
Midnight Lunch encourages innovators to follow Edison’s penchant for collaboration.
(Source: Wiley)

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Notilltom
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Re: Good set of principles
Notilltom   8/2/2013 11:23:17 PM
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While at Iowa State University, it was common for me to doz off when studying often with my head on notes or open books and notes on my chest. It seemed like it would sink in during the nap. Maybe it just helps the brain tuck it back in recoverable memory or facilitates some form of knowledge osmosis. Something had to work to generate five 4.0 quarters of the twelve I spent there as an undergrad.

Charles Murray
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Re: collaboration/exploitation
Charles Murray   6/20/2013 9:24:33 PM
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Maybe a trifle cynical, profgroove, I could find a lot of engineers who would heartily agree with that definition.

Charles Murray
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Re: Good set of principles
Charles Murray   6/13/2013 8:06:28 PM
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Yes, naps can be a help, Liz. Edison used to claim that by napping with his head on Watt's Dictionay of Chemistry, he absorbed the intricacies of chemistry.

profgroove
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collaboration/exploitation
profgroove   6/13/2013 4:17:23 PM
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To clarify; sans (earlier) cynicism:  To motivate collaboration among creative & talented people, rewards from successes must be equably distributed, other-wise the word is: exploitation.


Rob Spiegel
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Re: Good set of principles
Rob Spiegel   6/13/2013 1:28:57 PM
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Good point, TJ. Perhaps Boeing provides an example of the shortcomings of collaboration.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Good set of principles
Elizabeth M   6/13/2013 5:24:09 AM
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Interesting story, Chuck! I doubt any true slacker ever came up with a great invention! And even great inventors need to sleep...he probably took cat naps in between great bouts of pondering and experimenting. :) Actually, when I shared an office in NYC I had a writer friend who used to have a pillow under her desk so she could take short naps between bursts of writing. It definitely gets the creative juices flowing to reset in between bursts of work, I think.

Charles Murray
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Re: Good set of principles
Charles Murray   6/12/2013 7:30:41 PM
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Yes, Liz, there's a lot more to Edison's succss than collaboration. One of the aspects not mentioned here is the work hours. Edison was notorious for working long hours, and even sleeping on his desk in the lab, using Watts' Dictionary of Chemistry as his pillow. When I visited Edison's lab in Fort Myers, FL, a couple of years ago, I saw that that lab had a cot. So, apparently, Edison slept in the lab at his vacation home, too. My guess is that it's a lot easier to collaborate with your workers when you're in the lab 20 hours a day.

TJ McDermott
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Re: Good set of principles
TJ McDermott   6/12/2013 1:17:34 PM
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Rob, I don't think Boeing is a poster-child for collaborative design.  The 787 was 2 years behind schedule because their suppliers could not execute, from fastener shortages, to build problems (in Italy), to steep learning curves in Japan.

The battery design that grounded the fleet would also not be a good example of supplier collaboration.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Good set of principles
Rob Spiegel   6/12/2013 1:16:18 PM
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One of the interesting things Edison did to further collaboration was to choose each year a student or young engineer to come and work with him. In evaluating the potential, lucky student, Edison sought personality qualities over knowledge.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Good set of principles
Rob Spiegel   6/12/2013 1:07:52 PM
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I missed that article, but that ;position -- that collaboration isn't so wonderful -- is a contrarian point of view at this point. Boeing led the collaborative design movement in the late 199s by bringing suppliers into the design process. Now the automotive industry is hip deep in the water, sending tons of design to suppliers in collaborative joint efforts.

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