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jerryking : inventors   24

How to keep creative geniuses in check and in profit
March 10, 2019 | Financial Times | by Andrew Hill.

The story of how Eastman Kodak invented a digital camera in 1975 but failed to develop it is one of the most notorious misses in the annals of innovation. (It’s more complicated than that, but never mind.)

Polaroid, the instant-photo pioneer, took a slower path to the technology: its first digital camera appeared only in 1996. It filed for bankruptcy in 2001, 11 years before Kodak.
Polaroid’s founding genius, Edwin Land, could, though, have been first to the digital party. In 1971, as part of a secret panel advising the US president, he advocated digital photography, which the US eventually adopted for its spy satellites.
But Land was blind to the promise of digital cameras for the consumer.

This tale of failures of leadership, innovation and organisation is well told by Safi Bahcall, a physicist, former consultant and biotech entrepreneur, in Loonshots. There are four types of failure:
(1) Leadership failure. Edwin Land was guilty of leading his company into a common trap: only ideas approved by an all-powerful leader advance until at last a costly mis-step trips up the whole company.
(2) Innovation failure. Bahcall distinguishes between product-type and strategy-type innovation. Classic P-type innovators are the folks at innovation conferences conversing about new gadgets with less attention being paid to the analysis of innovative business models. Indeed, at some forums, P-type innovations also crowd the lobby. Delegates line up to try the latest shiny robot, electric car, or 3D printer.

(3) Organizational failure. Loonshots is based, refreshingly, on the idea culture does not necessarily eat strategy for breakfast. In fact, bad structure eats culture. Bahcall gives this a scientific foundation, explaining that successful teams and companies stagnate in the same way water turns to ice. A perfectly balanced innovative company must try to keep the temperature at the point where free-flowing bright ideas are not suddenly frozen by bureaucracy. How? Since the success of Bell Labs, companies have been told they should set up “a department of loonshots run by loons, free to explore the bizarre” separately from the parent. The key, though, is to ensure chief executives and their managers encourage the transfer of ideas between the mad creatives in the lab and the people in the field, and (the culture part) ensure both groups feel equally loved.

As for the assumption companies always ossify as they get larger, that risk can be mitigated by adjusting incentives, curbing office politics, and matching skills to projects, for which Loonshots offers a detailed formula.

Success also requires a special type of leader — not a visionary innovator but a “careful gardener”, who nurtures the existing franchise and the new projects. Though not himself an inventor, Steve Jobs, in his second phase at Apple, arguably achieved the right balance. He also spotted the S-type potential of iTunes. Even if Tesla’s Elon Musk is not losing that balance, in his headlong, top-down pursuit of loonshot after loonshot, he does not strike me as a born gardener.

Persuading charismatic geniuses to give up their role as leaders of organisations built on their inventions is hard. Typically, such people figure out themselves how to garden, as Jobs did; or they are coached by the board, which may install veteran executives to help; or they may be handed the title of “chief innovator” or “chief scientist” and nudged aside for a new CEO.

(4) They may find themselves peddling a fatally flawed product.
Bell_Labs  books  breakthroughs  business_models  creativity  digital_cameras  Edwin_Land  Elobooks  Elon_Musk  failure  genius  howto  incentives  innovation  inventors  Kodak  leaders  moonshots  office_politics  organizational_failure  organizational_innovation  Polaroid  product-orientated  Steve_Jobs 
march 2019 by jerryking
Cool Ways Of Keeping Things Cool People Fixing The World podcast
People Fixing The World « »
Cool Ways of Keeping Things Cool
16 weeks ago 23:18

A vast and expensive system with the sole purpose of keeping things cool exists across the developed world. This “cold chain” includes fridges in kitchens, refrigerated lorries and cold store warehouses for supermarket produce and medicines. It costs billions to run and has a big environmental cost. But in poorer countries, this cold chain is just in its infancy. People are dying as health clinics lack the fridges to keep vaccines safe. New cold chain technology is needed and two inventors think they’ve figured it out. World Hacks looks at their innovative ways of keeping things chilled. Presenter: Harriet Noble Reporter: Tom Colls
BBC  cold_storage  inventions  inventors  podcasts  developing_countries 
december 2018 by jerryking
Lost Einsteins: The Innovations We’re Missing -
DEC. 3, 2017 | The New York Times | David Leonhardt.

societies have a big interest in making sure that as many people as possible have the opportunity to become scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs. It’s not only a matter of fairness. Denying opportunities to talented people can end up hurting everyone.

.....Raj Chetty....is a Stanford professor who helps lead the Equality of Opportunity Project.... considered among the most important research efforts in economics today.....The project’s latest paper, out Sunday, looks at who becomes an inventor — and who doesn’t. The results are disturbing....The key phrase in the research paper is “lost Einsteins.” It’s a reference to people who could “have had highly impactful innovations” if they had been able to pursue the opportunities they deserved.....children who excelled in math were far more likely to become inventors. But being a math standout wasn’t enough. Only the top students who also came from high-income families had a decent chance to become an inventor.

This fact may be the starkest: Low-income students who are among the very best math students — those who score in the top 5 percent of all third graders — are no more likely to become inventors than below-average math students from affluent families:

....“There are great differences in innovation rates,” Chetty said. “Those differences don’t seem to be due to innate ability to innovate.” Or as Steve Case — the entrepreneur who’s now investing in regions that venture capital tends to ignore — told me when I called him to discuss the findings: “Creativity is broadly distributed. Opportunity is not.” [or life’s basic truth: Talent is universal, but opportunity is not.]
innovation  equality_of_opportunity  Steve_Case  Albert_Einstein  achievement_gaps  affluence  high-income  low-income  mathematics  capitalization  human_potential  inventions  inventiveness  inventors  creativity  quotes  unevenly_distributed 
december 2017 by jerryking
John Saringer: Medical device inventor has a healthy imagination - The Globe and Mail
PAUL ATTFIELD
The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Jul. 02 2014

“I think I have a unique ability, which is not common, which is the ability to visualize products in my head without building them,” he explains. “So when Dr. Salter or somebody else tells me a problem, I basically [come up with] 10, 20, 30 different approaches and in my mind I try to sort out which of them are most likely to achieve the objective and be cost-effective to make. And then I develop along that path. But most of the process actually occurs in my imagination.”
innovation  imagination  inventors  generating_strategic_options  medical_devices  mental_dexterity 
july 2014 by jerryking
How to Get a Job
May 28, 2013 |NYTimes.com | By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

employers are designing their own tests to measure applicants’ skills. One of the best ways to understand the changing labor market is to talk to the co-founders of HireArt (www.hireart.com): Eleonora Sharef, 27, a veteran of McKinsey; and Nick Sedlet, 28, a math whiz who left Goldman Sachs. Their start-up was designed to bridge the divide between job-seekers and job-creators....The way HireArt works, explained Sharef (who was my daughter’s college roommate), is that clients — from big companies, like Cisco, Safeway and Airbnb, to small family firms — come with a job description and then HireArt designs online written and video tests relevant for that job. Then HireArt culls through the results and offers up the most promising applicants to the company, which chooses among them....The most successful job candidates, she added, are “inventors and solution-finders,” who are relentlessly “entrepreneurial” because they understand that many employers today don’t care about your résumé, degree or how you got your knowledge, but only what you can do and what you can continuously reinvent yourself to do.

Published: May 28, 2013
Tom_Friedman  entrepreneurship  start_ups  HireArt  job_search  howto  new_graduates  reinvention  inventors  solution-finders 
may 2013 by jerryking
Following Up With Dan Brown, Inventor of the Bionic Wrench - NYTimes.com
November 26, 2012, 7:00 (share with Paul Boldt)
Following Up With Dan Brown, Inventor of the Bionic Wrench
By GENE MARKS

we definitely need some changes if our country is ever going to protect our significant investments in innovation. Most people do not know it, but we have a double standard in the protection and punishment of intellectual property theft. Without going into all of the detail, the punishment for willful copyright and trademark infringement is a criminal penalty. This is a very strong deterrent for copyright and trademark infringement. The punishment for willful patent infringement is a civil case and not a criminal case. As it stands today, this piracy model for patent theft allows infringers to proceed unchecked for years in the marketplace, often destroying the market, business, and investment of the patent rights owner. The current system forces the victim to fight a protracted and expensive legal battle. If Congress were to simply make those cases of willful patent infringement a criminal case, and we began holding the responsible individuals and officers of the companies personally accountable — as it is in willful infringement of copyrights and trademarks — I believe these infringers would think long and hard before they risked infringing a patented product....Unfortunately, the sales cycle in this business runs well ahead of the delivery cycle. Pioneering a new product into a retailer is very challenging, especially when attempting to convince a buyer whose paradigm is almost totally based on purchasing imported products at very low costs. That is why we worked so hard with Sears to prove the viability of the product and sales program.
delivery_cycle  double_standards  intellectual_property  inventors  litigation  new_products  patents  patent_infringement  patent_law  retailers  sales_cycle  Sears 
november 2012 by jerryking
In Technology Wars, Using the Patent as a Sword - NYTimes.com
By CHARLES DUHIGG and STEVE LOHR
Published: October 7, 2012
Historically, the United States has awarded ownership of an innovation to whoever created the first prototype, a policy known as “first to invent.” Under the America Invents Act, ownership will be awarded to whoever submits the first application, or “first to file.”

The shift, inventors like Mr. Perlman say, makes life harder for small entrepreneurs. Large companies with battalions of lawyers can file thousands of pre-emptive patent applications in emerging industries. Start-ups, lacking similar resources, will find themselves easy prey once their products show promise........“Start-ups are where progress occurs,” “If you spend all your time in court, you can’t create much technology.”
Apple  intellectual_property  inventors  litigation  Nuance  offensive_tactics  patents  patent_law  Silicon_Valley  Steve_Lohr  USPTO 
october 2012 by jerryking
In Canada, the Impact of America's New Patent Law Is Seen - NYTimes.com
August 26, 2012, 7:00 pm4 Comments
In Canada, the Impact of America’s New Patent Law Is Seen
By STEVE LOHR

Outlines the negative effects of passing the America Invents Act on small, innovative businesses....Under the new law, the United States, beginning in March of next year, would move from a first-to-invent system to first-to-file. Opponents of the law say the switch would favor large corporations, whose big legal staffs will likely win the paper chase to the patent office...America’s current patent system, according to Adam Mossoff, a professor at George Mason University School of Law, is intentionally biased toward small upstarts, the “new innovators that disrupt and destroy existing companies and industries.”

There is debate among economists about the role of small inventors and companies in innovation and job growth. The drift of research is that a tiny percentage of fast-growing small companies that quickly become bigger companies — sometimes called “gazelles” — account for most of the job generation and disruptive innovation.
gazelles  patents  Canada  inventors  innovation  patent_law  crossborder 
august 2012 by jerryking
Deja Vu - WSJ.com
May 21, 2007 | WSJ | Cynthia Crossen

The toughest part of inventing isn't solving problems. It's figuring out which problems are worth the effort...If you made a list of the 2,100 inventions you thought were needed, you would also be painting a profile of yourself. "Invention is really a systematic form of criticism," Mr. Yates wrote, and people tend to criticize the things that annoy them in their daily lives. Mr. Yates, for example, seems to have found most commonplace devices excessively noisy....While Mr. Yates recorded most of his 2,100 inventions in no particular order, he did make a top-10 list that proves he wasn't a trivial thinker. His top-three needed inventions all concerned energy -- a way to transform energy into power with less waste, a more efficient way to store energy and better light bulbs.

Mr. Yates, a self-taught engineer, inventor and technical writer, tried to nudge other inventors in the right direction with his book, "2100 Needed Inventions." Published by Wilfred Funk Inc., Mr. Yates's book was a list of ways people could alleviate certain nuisances and defects of life and get rich for their trouble. "We often see clever and simple devices for sale which cause us to chastise ourselves with some such remark as, 'Why I could have thought of that years ago and made a lot of money with it!' Certainly you could have -- but you didn't."
critical_thinking  criticism  discernment  frictions  inventions  inventiveness  inventors  negative_space  pain_points  personal_enrichment  problem_solving  systematic_approaches  unarticulated_desires  worthiness  worthwhile_problems 
june 2012 by jerryking
The Most Inventive Towns in America - WSJ.com
July 22, 2006 | WSJ | by REED ALBERGOTTI.
The tinkerers who helped build America haven't disappeared -- they're right next door. Our search for small-town patent hubs found surprising innovations from coast to coast.
cities  entrepreneurship  innovation  inventors  patents  patent_trolls  small_business  tinkerers 
april 2012 by jerryking
The Inventor Of the Future
By Lev Grossman; Harry McCracken Monday, Oct. 17, 2011
Steve_Jobs  future  inventors 
october 2011 by jerryking
The business of brainstorms
Apr. 29, 2010 | Globe and Mail | Chris Nuttall-Smith.
Canadian inventor Robert Dickie and his firm, Spark Innovations, are
doing just fine...Spark offers contract innovation working on between 70
and 80 projects every year. Nearly 80% of its business is contract
work: development, prototyping and intellectual property assistance.
brainstorming  innovation  Outsourcing  inventors  prototyping 
april 2011 by jerryking
The Most Powerful Idea in the World
In less than a century, in a single place, human welfare and
prosperity, which had barely changed in the preceding 10,000 years,
entered an era of sustained and explosive growth that continues to this
day. The moment did not occur in 2nd century Alexandria, or 12th century
China, or Renaissance Italy, but in 18th century Britain; and, as
William Rosen chronicles in his extraordinary new history, the reason
was the power of an idea: that inventors should have ownership of their
inventions.

The Most Powerful Idea in the World is the story of that idea as
expressed in the “biography” of a single invention: the steam engine.
How it came to be born; how it grew to power factories, drive other
inventions, and carry people and freight, by rail and by sea
18th_century  book_reviews  Industrial_Revolution  United_Kingdom  inventors  patent_law  patents  books  ideas  inventions  industrial_age  steam_engine  James_Watts 
december 2010 by jerryking
Thinkers And Tinkerers
June 22, 2010 | The New Republic | Edward Glaeser. Reviews
The Enlightened Economy: An Economic History of Britain, 1700-1850 by
Joel Mokyr Yale University Press, 564 pp., $45. The Industrial
Revolution is the inflection point of economic history. During all the
millennia before that revolution, incomes were static and humans were
poor—often hungry, inadequately clothed, ill-housed. But somehow, in the
2.5 centuries since humanity learned to mass produce, a large number of
ordinary people have acquired more material comfort than even the
wealthiest magnates of the pre-industrial era....Joel Mokyr (The Lever
of Riches) a distinguished economic historian, explores England’s early
industrial age. Mokyr's overarching thesis is about the power of ideas.
His grand idea is that the practical, avaricious inventors of the
industrial revolution owed much to the academic, but worldly,
philosophers of the Enlightenment.
Industrial_Revolution  history  book_reviews  financial_history  the_Enlightenment  Joel_Mokyr  economic_history  industrial_age  precision  ideas  inventors  books  mass_production  England  United_Kingdom  steam_engine  James_Watts  tinkerers  inflection_points 
july 2010 by jerryking
Inventors Have Rights, Too! - WSJ.com
MARCH 30, 2006 | Wall Street Journal | by NATHAN MYHRVOLD. "The
roots of this case lie in differing corporate cultures and attitudes
about the patent system. In some industries, like pharmaceuticals or
biotech, patents are crucial to the business model, so they support and
respect patent rights. Tech companies, on the other hand, win by
muscling their way to sufficient market share to become a de facto
standard (some would say monopoly). Because patents don't figure in this
business model, tech companies don't hold the patent system in high
regard. Patents are simply not a priority for many tech companies. Ebay,
for example, has only 11 issued patents."..."The patent system exists
to give economic incentive to create inventions -- not products. "
inventors  U.S._Supreme_Court  intellectual_property  patents  patent_law  Nathan_Myhrvold  Intellectual_Ventures 
december 2009 by jerryking
Small-scale artisans embrace the virtual dollhouse - The Globe and Mail
Nov. 21, 2009 | Saturday's Globe and Mail | by Shaun Pett.
Like mass-market industrial goods, artisanal wares produced on a small
scale are benefiting from globalization and the reach of the Internet,
attracting new clients in far-flung markets. Call it the rise of
micro-manufacturing.
artisan_hobbies_&_crafts  manufacturers  size  scaling  design  Etsy  inventors  micro-factories 
november 2009 by jerryking
Inventor's Blindness Was Legal Technicality - WSJ.com
JULY 15, 2009 | Wall Street Journal | By STEPHEN MILLER. An Inventor Whose Blindness Was Just a Legal Technicality.
inventors  blindness  inspiration  obituaries 
july 2009 by jerryking

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