November 30, 2004

Excerpts: 10 Lessons from History's Innovators - Part V

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 1:35 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Lesson #4 - DIFFIDENCE WONT DO. An idea may work only when pushed to its limits. Samuel Insull and Juan Trippe went to extremes in the size of the engines they demanded respectively for power generation and aircraft. Halfway measures would not have yielded cheap power and air fares. There is a parallel in some of the sciences. Nineteenth-century experimenters trying to make cheap polarizers from crystals found that small crystals crumbled, so they moved to larger crystals and still failed. In the 1920s the youthful Edwin Land succeeded by going entirely in the other direction to crystals of microscopic size. Rubber, that ubiquitous substance, was unusable for decades because on hot days it turned to a sticky, smelly goo. Charles Goodyear accidentally exposed a treated sample to prolonged heat in his wifes oven, and vulcanization became a commercial prospect. From the book THEY MADE AMERICA by Harold Evans, with Gail Buckland and David Lefer. (c) 2004 Little, Brown & Co.

About Dylan Schleicher

Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.