Ideas are flowers. For them to blossom you have to have both an environment that is inclusive and a willingness to accept new ways.

Author’s note, the initial iteration published of The Edison Scale© intentionally focuses on the negative side of inter-generational knowledge transfer, the points of failure. There is a scale within Edison Scale© that also shows the positive side of information transfer. That scale is shown below:

clip_image002We start with the concept hey great idea and then we move through the scale. Unlike the negative we now have points where encouragement for ideas is offered. I once, as a school teacher built a HyperCard stack with my students. I built the education package in HyperCard because it was a summer school computer class and I had first graders to sixth graders in the class. You can’t dive into complex C++ programming with that amount of age disparity you will fail. But HyperCard was simple, powerful and allows us to build a dinosaur stack. One of the things that we decided as a team was we wanted to have the sounds of dinosaurs. We didn’t know what they sounded like, so the kids invented sounds for every dinosaur. The stack was amazing (it was actually 23 stacks in the end) and the kids did an amazing job. What impressed the parents that viewed it the most? The sounds the kids created for each dinosaur. Kids have amazing ideas.

The positive side of the scale when put side by side with the negative has one more step. I added a second failure point. Why? Remember The Edison Scale© is named for the inventor. First because he didn’t quit. He kept finding new ways not to create light bulbs. Second because he didn’t care what people said about his ideas. He just did them. Not all of his ideas and thoughts were good. His control of the motion picture patents early on in the process actually delayed the creation of the film industry by 10 years. But that was business not invention!

I can’t tell you how many “brainstorming” sessions I’ve sat in where one person controlled the session and most ideas were thrown out. Not thrown out into the room and then discussed but dismissed. The most important thing an organization can built is an inclusive environment. Inclusion is a concept critical to The Edison Scale© and the broader concept of Inter-generational knowledge transfer.

Over the years I have noted a number of communication patterns. The patterns and the anti-patterns coupled with management and leadership styles result in environments where ideas are encouraged or ideas are not encouraged. An inclusive knowledge creation system doesn’t care where an idea comes form or who builds the idea out. Just that the idea flourish and blossom. That idea generation and nurturing process allows for three things,

1. It’s OK to fail

2. It’s OK to ask if it’s been done before

3. It’s OK to do something that failed before, again differently

Now, that said sometimes you have to pull the plug. You have to, after a number of attempts pull the plug on an innovation. But once created you store ideas. You never know when they will inspire a new variation. The inclusive nature of knowledge acquiring gives the organization the power to enable ideas and to create brainstorming session that are all over the place.

This requires an understanding of the limitations of facilities. Mostly it has to do with parking lots. It is ok to run a brain storming session with a parking lot. Ideas come up, they aren’t germane so we move them to the parking lot. That is an accepted practice. Now, how many people reading this post or later posts about The Edison Scale© have ever gone back and done more than documenting the parking lot? You see people hate being pushed to the parking lot because the reality is the parking lot is a very polite way to say thanks for playing now go home.

To encourage inspiration, you have to have inclusion. All ideas have to be given their freedom. That means if it ends up in the parking lot, it has to be revisited. The first initial concept within The Edison Scale© is that of the monthly or bi-weekly parking lot meeting. People interested in the pre-published agenda of parking lot ideas to be discussed at the meeting can attend.

Inclusion.

To be inclusive you accept all people regardless of any factor and all ideas. We may put them into the parking today, but that parking lot will be discussed later.

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Inventor The Edison Scale©