Which is the Greatest Invention of All Time?

Johannes Gutenberg Which invention or innovation has had the most positive impact on the development of civilisation and the greatest benefit for mankind?  A strong contender is the printing press. Johannes Gutenberg (1398 – 1468) was a German blacksmith, goldsmith and printer who invented the printing press and movable type. Before Gutenberg all books had been hand written or stamped out with fixed... Read More--


How a Boy enabled the Blind to Read

Louis Braille Louis Braille was born in 1809 in Coupvray, a village near Paris. His father was a saddler and little Louis liked to play in his father’s workshop. Unfortunately at the age of three he accidentally pushed a sharp tool called an awl into his eye. His eye became infected. The infection spread to his other eye leaving the small child completely blind. Despite this terrible setback, Louis... Read More--


An Assembly Line of Innovations

Henry Ford A great way to innovate is to take an idea from another place and apply it in your field. Take as an example the assembly line. Henry Ford (1863 – 1947) is often credited with the innovation of the assembly line in mass manufacturing and he was the first to use it in automobile manufacture. However, Ford got the idea from an abattoir. A Ford executive, William Klann, was impressed with... Read More--


An Idea that Transformed Shopping

If you ran a supermarket in say 1960 then you had a problem. The number of different consumer goods kept increasing but how could you accurately price every item at checkout? Even the best checkout clerk could only remember a limited number of prices so most items had to have price stickers – but stickering every item was time consuming and labour intensive. If a price changed then all the units... Read More--


When it comes to Innovation you can either be the Diner or the Dinner

Innovation gives you a choice.  You can either ride with the change and benefit or oppose the change and be run over.   A recent Reuters report describes how taxi drivers in Milan, Chicago and Paris are vigorously opposing the use of the Uber service – a mobile app that allows users to summon a chauffeured car.  It bypasses one of the best established of closed shops.  In places like Milan taxi... Read More--


Look for the Solution inside the Problem

Two prisoners dug a tunnel from their cell 80 feet to escape from prison. Where did they hide the dirt? I heard this story from Roni Horowitz of the consultancy group SIT who uses it to show the advantages of a method called Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT). The answer is that they hid the dirt in the tunnel. The prisoners stole nylon sacks from the prison bakery and each day they dug the tunnel... Read More--


Innovation can Destroy as well as Create

Socrates Apparently Socrates in ancient Greece was strongly opposed to the new practice of writing. He thought that it would kill the long-established skill of memorizing and reciting epic stories. Furthermore he thought that writing would replace or discourage conversation. It seems ludicrous that any intellectual could oppose writing. However, every innovation involves an element of destruction.... Read More--


When Innovation threatens your business you must adapt or die.

What do you do when an innovation threatens to put you out of business?  Adapt or die.  Daniel Peter, who was born in 1836, was a Swiss candle-stick maker whose business started to suffer because of the new invention of oil lamps.  He had a factory that could pour liquid candle wax into molds.  How could he adapt these skills?  He decided to make chocolate bars but he wanted to do something to... Read More--


Has the Innovation Engine run out of Steam?

The Economist recently ran a feature entitled, ‘Has the Ideas Machine broken down?’   The front cover showed a Rodinesque figure sitting on a toilet and pondering the question, ‘Will we ever invent anything as useful again?’ There are many pundits who think that the innovation engine which has powered the growth of the world economy is running out of steam.  Peter Thiel, one of the founders... Read More--


Break the Rules and Move Fast – lessons from the Great Innovator Don Estridge

Don Estridge Don Estridge, ‘the father of the IBM PC’, was the man who tore up the IBM rule book in order to ship a revolutionary product, the IBM Personal Computer, which spawned a whole industry and ushered in a new era in the history of computing.  He was born in 1937 in Jacksonville, Florida. He gained a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at the University of Florida.  He worked... Read More--