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At Work With Thomas Edison Paperback – December 1, 2001

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Entrepreneur Press; 1 edition (December 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1891984357
  • ISBN-13: 978-1891984358
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.6 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #282,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

McCormick, a management professor at Baylor University and author of Ben Franklin's 12 Rules of Management, is obviously enchanted with Edison and believes the inventor's talents haven't been fully recognized. In addition to patenting over 1,000 inventions, Edison was a capable businessman who recognized that innovation is a business, emphasizing the importance of creating a company that produces more than just one good idea. According to McCormick, Edison never invented simply to create a new thing, but rather focused on crafting something that would have a practical use. Edison also believed that one invention often led to a series of inventions, citing the link between the phonograph, telegraph and motion picture. Among the key lessons readers can learn from Edison are "limit your way to greater creativity" (Edison felt his deafness helped his creativity) and "the greatest innovators have made a lot of F's" (failure is essential to inventions). McCormick includes the inventor's own words as well as success stories about others who, like Edison, have achieved success through untraditional methods (including one of this season's top success stories, General Electric CEO Jack Welch). This book will appeal to those curious about Edison as well as anyone seeking tips on achieving entrepreneurial success. The writing is clear and rife with rarely discussed details that offer a new perspective on the achievements of a great American inventor.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

McCormick (management, Baylor Univ.; Ben Franklin's 12 Rules of Management) presents an absorbing summary of the major lessons to be learned from Thomas Alva Edison, effectively capturing the spirit of the man Peter Drucker called the "archetype for every high-tech entrepreneur." The ten lessons include how to attract and retain the best talent, build an "invention factory," learn from failure, and recognize play as the heart of innovation. McCormick explains well-known myths about Edison (e.g., he invented a better, cheaper light bulb and held better press conferences announcing his discovery) and offers numerous sidebars that showcase his most creative solutions to problems. Interviews with Edison drawn from contemporary publications further clarify the value of his work in today's "post-corporate world." While this work does not replace the solid, full-scale biographies by Paul Israel (Edison, LJ 10/15/98) and Neil Baldwin (Edison: Inventing the Century, LJ 1/95), it offers astute application of Edison's accomplishments for today's business executives. Highly recommended. Dale Farris, Groves, TX
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
Here is another terrific book from Blaine McCormick who, as he did so skillfully in Ben Franklin's 12 Rules of Management, focuses on an historic figure from whose life and work certain important "lessons" can be learned. Yes, they include lessons relevant to business but so many other kinds of lessons which anyone needs inorder to think more clearly and more creatively, to nourish and enrich one's personal life, and of equal (if not greater) importance, to persevere in the face of great adversity. Most people would agree that Edison was the greatest inventor who ever lived. Most people may not know that he was also a very shrewd businessman with a deep understanding of key issues such as allocation of resources (e.g. time management), setting proper priorities, delegating work to those better qualified to complete it, and creating and then sustain competitive advantage.
McCormick identifies and then examines ten different "Lessons" which, collectively, delineate Edison's business model:

1. Limit your way to greater creativity.
2. Talent comes and talent goes but mediocrity accumulates.
3. Creativity is all about making connections.
4. If you want to invent, build yourself an invention factory.
5. The greatest innovators have made a lot of F's.
An interesting point because most people fear failure. Edison passionately believed that the more failed experiments (whatever the situation) he completed, the more likely eventual success would be. Only through rigorous and extensive experimentation is it possible to determine what we don't know, and, what doesn't work. Moreover, what is true today and what works today may be inadequate or even wrong tomorrow. For Edison, failure (not success) was the best teacher.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Martin Schray on February 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
At Work With Thomas Edison is a great book. I had always pictured Edison as the lone inventor. Nothing could be further from the truth. This book proved many of my ideas about Edison were simply myths. On the other had this book also expanded my view about the truly amazing accomplishments of Thomas Edison (he started over 100 companies include GE and had over 1,000 patents).
As the book quickly points out Edison was one of the first practitioners in the war for talent. Edison's lab was the first innovation factory and in many ways a precursor to Silicon Valley. The lab had no rules (pet bear, pipe organ, and pranks) and was a true meritocracy. Edison's lab had a basic apprenticeship program and Edition worked with many, many people on the innovation teams that worked on projects. The electric light bulb team was over 75 people.
The book also cast a complementary light on Edison as a businessman. The innovations of the labs lead to the founding of over 100 companies. The labs innovations lead to a virtuous cycle of products, systems, and industries. This led to more innovation and more businesses. Edison was not Rockefeller nor did he want to be he wanted his business to continue to provide funding for invention. Edison was adept at capturing and using venture capital.
Edison was also quite adept at marketing. At a time before self-promotion was recognized or well understood Edison was adept at it. Edison's ability to market himself and his ideas lead to better funding, recognition, and a reputation, which allowed him to invent even more.
This is a great book. Edison was one of the greatest Americans to have ever lived.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Crawford on January 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is one of those business books that are dime a dozen: some business prof finds an appropriate metaphor or vehicle and builds an entire book around it while expounding on whatever pet subject he wishes to promote. One or two like this are OK, but when you read them day in and day out like I have to, the formula wears very very thin indeed.
I was looking for information on Thomas Edison, in particular how he built teams and what his leadership style was. While there are some useful nuggets of information in this book, I was very disappointed at how little about Edison there was to find and how much about what McCormick calls post-corporate America (i.e. the old "new economy") and other rather banal ideas. Moreover, absolutely nothing that the author says is footnoted or documented in any way, so the reader never knows what he is basing his conclusions or assertions on. That is not second rate - it is third rate scholarship and unacceptable from any academic yardstick. Finally, the farther you get into the book, the less there is about Edison and the more off-hand advice and even simple (very conservative) economic ideology there is. I have seen similar ideas many times before and was not interested in hearing them reiterated in what I consider a less clearly written style and a less cogent manner. FInally, the examples that he trots out are already badly dated: Enron, for example, is touted as a superior post-corporate company because of the way it manages "creative" employees (I don't think he meant accounting); so is Sun Microsystems and many other info-econ companies that have seen near-catastrophic declines since the publication date of 2001 - it is so superficial that you have to wonder if there was any real thought behind any of it beyond the usual business-school shlock!
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