Psychology Today has recently published an article by Michael Michalko, one of the most highly acclaimed creativity experts in the world. This article discusses six creativity lessons that emerged from a review of the way Thomas Edison worked.
1) Challenge all assumptions
Edison used to invite every candidate assistant to dinner. If the person salted the soup before tasting it, he would not hire him for the job because he wanted people who consistently challenged assumptions.
He set idea quotas for all his workers because he believed that, in order to discover a good idea, you need to generate many ideas. It took in fact over 50,000 experiments to invent the alkaline storage cell battery and 9000 to perfect the light bulb.
3) Nothing is wasted
Edison's notebooks contain pages of material on what he learned from experimental failures. When an experiment failed, he would always ask what the failure revealed and would enthusiastically record what he had learnt.
4) Constantly improve your ideas and products and the ideas and products of others
Edison studied all his inventions and ideas as points of departure for other inventions and often drew inspiration from titles of books, failed patents and research papers written by other inventors.
5) Turn deficiencies into your advantage
Edison had hearing problems and received requests from hearing-impaired people all over the world to invent a hearing aid, but he declined because he thought his so-called disability gave him valuable mental space in which to think.
6) Record your ideas and thoughts
Edison had a deep-rooted need to write down his ideas in order to see for himself the relentless cause-and-effect nature of many of his works.