How Startrek inspired an Innovation – your Cell Phone

Captain Kirk Martin Cooper led the team at Motorola that developed the world’s first handheld mobile phone.  He was born in 1928.  He served in the US Navy before taking a degree in Electrical Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT).  In 1954 he joined Motorola and worked on pagers and then car phones using cellular technology.  At that stage the car phones were mobile only in... Read More--

Adopt an Idea from Elsewhere and Adapt it for your Business

Clarence Birdseye Adapting ideas that work in one environment and using them in another is one of the most successful of innovation techniques. In 1916 a young American scientist and inventor called Clarence Birdseye went to Canada as a fur trader. He noticed that people in Labrador kept their food frozen in the snow for extended periods in the winter. When he returned to the USA he developed this... Read More--

A hostile reaction to genius is not unusual – it is the norm.

Tchaikovsky The Russian composer Piotr Ilich Tchaikovsky (1840 – 1893) dedicated his brilliant first piano concerto to the eminent pianist Nikolai Rubinstein. When it was completed in February, 1875, he played the piece for Rubinstein. ‘Not one word was said – absolute silence… I got up from the piano. ‘Well?’ I said. Then a torrent burst from Rubinstein, my concerto... Read More--

Innovations come at the Intersection of Sciences – How a Botanist shaped your Computer.

  Friedrich Reinitzer Liquid crystals   represent a state of matter which exists between solid and liquid states. They were first discovered in 1888 by Austrian botanist Friedrich Reinitzer who was studying cholesterol at the Charles University in Prague. Reinitzer described three important features of cholesteric liquid crystals; the existence of two melting points, the reflection of polarized... Read More--

What is the Difference between Creativity and Innovation?

Discussions about innovation are often made difficult because people are unclear about the exact meanings of some key terms. In particular there is confusion about the difference between creativity, innovation and invention. Let us start with some definitions: Creativity is the capability or act of conceiving something original or unusual Innovation is the implementation of something new. Invention... Read More--

A minor innovation in one field can become a major innovation in another e.g. Siping

Often a minor innovation in one field can become a major innovation in another field. An example is Siping. John Sipe worked in an abattoir in the US in the 1920s. Like other workers there he found that he kept slipping on the wet and bloody floors. His shoes were too slippery, so he took his knife and cut thin slits across the rubber soles. He found that the shoes now gave a much better grip. In 1923... Read More--

The 20 Worst Assumptions made by Experts

The greater the expert the more wrong they can be; in their assumptions, their predictions or their negative reactions to new ideas. Here are some classic examples: Samuel Pepys (1633-1703), the celebrated English diarist, wrote the following comments on seeing plays by Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet – ‘the worst play I ever saw in my life’, A Midsummer Night’s Dream –... Read More--

Use Technology to Reach your Customer in a New Way

Peter Wood In the early 1980s, if you wanted to take out motor insurance in the UK then you went to a high street insurance broker who took down all your details on various forms and sent them off to insurance companies to get quotes. The insurance broker insisted that it took all his skill and experience to eventually get you a good policy. Then Peter Wood came along and took a different view. He... Read More--

How a Child’s Question led to the Polaroid Camera

Edwin Land (1909 – 1991) was an American inventor who had studied Chemistry. On holiday he took a photograph of his three year old daughter. She asked why she could not see the result straight away and she kept asking why. Land pondered this question and an idea formed in his mind. He went on to develop the Polaroid camera, a revolutionary product which sold over 150 million units and made Land... Read More--

The Three Innovations that shaped World War I

The recent successes of the dramas War Horse and Birdsong have revived interest in World War I and probably reinforced some stereotypes. The Great War of 1914 to 1918 was an extremely bloody conflict with more than 9 million combatants killed. It was characterised by static lines of defence and attacks which were repulsed with great loss of life. It is widely thought that the carnage was the fault... Read More--