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Midnight Lunch: Thomas Edison's Grand Niece innovation amazing keynote

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Sarah Miller Caldicott, the grand niece of Edison and CEO of Power Patterns of Innovation, kicks off the BEI conference from The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

Topic: Midnight Lunch: Building an Innovator's Toolkit for Success.

Thesis: how to both serve businesses and capture the imagination of consumers. What was Edison's execution process?

One core: true collaboration. Collaboration is not a task-driven process, but rather a learning process. Edison organized his teams for agility and collaboration, which is more complex than the linear process of handing off a baton. Tip: create a learning culture and do not just focus on tasks.

Midnight lunch was Edison's process for sharing the deep context of an experiment or challenge. This rich exchange of dialogue served as a dialogue that refined the concepts. As well, they sang songs and just talked. These teams would bond first, then share and apply their expertise. How can you create such an environment in your organization?

Another core: context. Expand your frame of thinking around the problem you seek to solve. Zoom in. Zoom out. Adopt a user's perspective.

Prototype of primary consumer testing:  Edison was acutely interested in the human experience, the UX, of his inventions. He ran test after test. Used a lot of demonstration as interface test and also to generate demand for concepts. Sound familiar? The Edison team used these iterative checkpoints as deep well of feedback from users.

Business Model Innovation. Edison's inventive cunning exceeded product innovations. At Menlo Park his team created hundreds of products, but radically disrupted more than six established business models. Lesson: find new paths and create "disruption readiness."

Brand relevance: Edison continually refreshed his brand. For example, the phonograph underwent hundreds of adaptive improvements after its initial launch, refreshing the brand's footprint with every new launch. Sounds like Apple took a page from this playbook.

This talk demonstrates that the Back End of Innovation is a loop that keeps business models, team dynamics, and products fresh and relevant. You have to establish these tenets in your culture to thrive, to execute, and create sustained momentum.

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