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Without collaboration, innovation stalls. "Midnight lunch" was the unique practice Thomas Edison used to power collaboration within his innovation colossus. True collaboration has four phases: …

Without collaboration, innovation stalls. "Midnight lunch" was the unique practice Thomas Edison used to power collaboration within his innovation colossus. True collaboration has four phases: Capacity, Context, Coherence, and Complexity. Learn how to apply them in the digital era!

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  • The original flex time arrangement! Edison was also smart to recognize that productivity and output went hand in hand by having staff work together. I wonder what would have happened if his staff had worked virtually. I'm sure they would not have seen the same results.
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  • Great question, Lynn! Amazingly, Edison actually had flexible work hours. On the whole, people could come to the lab whenever they wished as long as they clocked their full time alotment. This enabled teams to be creative throughout the day. For urgent projects, teams literally slept in shifts at the lab. My great great aunt Mina actually put a cot in Edison's office for this purpose (otherwise he would sleep on his desk...). You can see the cot to this day at the Menlo Park and West Orange facilities, as well as at the Fort Myers lab in FL. Hope this addresses your question!
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  • @LynnHazan Great question, Lynn! Amazingly, Edison allowed flexible work hours. This enabled teams to be creative throughout the entire day. As long as people 'clocked their time,' on the whole, they could choose when to work. When there was an urgent project at hand however, people often literally slept at the lab, in shifts. My great great aunt Mina put a cot in Edison's office for this purpose! You can still see these cots to this day at the Menlo Park and West Orange facilities in NJ, and at Fort Myers, FL. Hope this offers some insight to your question!
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  • I love the Midnight Lunch concept. My big question... at what time did everyone come back to work in the am? Were the staff productive during the day? I wonder how many big ideas and breakthroughs happened on the late shift.
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  • 1. Book OverviewMidnight Lunch offers a vision forhow collaboration teams can operatetodayCollaboration serves as the backbone,the sinews, the ligaments that allowinnovation to advance, not stall outCollaboration enabled ThomasEdison’s innovation colossus toflourish. Midnight Lunch revealshow you can use collaboration topower innovation success in thedigital era
  • 2. GravityGravity is a unique and pervasiveforce in the universeThough it holds the power to shapeplanets, stars, and solar systems, weoften take gravity for grantedIt operates in the background
  • 3. CollaborationLike gravity, collaboration is a force that constantlysurrounds us, yet is rarely noticedLike gravity, collaboration is a subtle yet pervasiveforce that lies at the heart of what shapes teams andorganizations
  • 4. But now, our understanding of collaboration is changing. It canno longer be a background force... …Collaboration is about to take Center Stage
  • 5. One Billion in One DecadeBetween 2010 and 2020, a record1 billion working-age adults willenter the global workforceUniquely, a majority of this newworkforce will have access tomobile phones and smart devices This combination of people and technology will set in motion a wave of collaboration unprecedented in human history
  • 6. Future FactorsThree factors will differentiate companies andgovernments that thrive in the coming era: 1) staying relevant 2) innovating 3) attracting and retaining talentCollaboration is essential to all threeTo thrive in this newly collaborative environment –often dubbed the Innovation Age – individuals andorganizations must re-skill themselves to align withthese three mandates, or fade into irrelevance
  • 7. ChallengeHow can we create the foundations forcollaboration to thrive, especially in our digitalera?What can we do tonourish collaboration as acentral force in ourorganizations now,harnessing it in a waythat creates value?
  • 8. Starting PointWe can look to the revolutionary practices of ThomasEdison – one of the world’s greatest innovators – forcollaboration approaches that can be translated for thedigital era… indeed, the Innovation Age
  • 9. PioneerThomas Edisonpioneered 6 industriesin less than 35 years… All 6 of these industries remain in existence today:a feat which has yet to Document duplication…1873be repeated Telecommunications…1876 Recorded sound…1877 Incandescent electric light and power…1879 Motion pictures…1897 Portable power…1903
  • 10. ImpactAs of 1910, the patents andindustries Edison and histeams established were valuedat $6.7 billion, or roughly $100billion today The ripple effect of Edison’s innovations since his lifetime exceeds $1,000,000,000,000 globally
  • 11. LearningThere is a great deal we can learnfrom Edison about value creationBy studying the core components ofhis collaboration methods, we cantranslate them for the 21st century
  • 12. True Collaboration True Collaboration Edison could not have created billions of dollars in market value without the power of “true collaboration.” “When you honor me, you are also honoring the vast army of workers but for whom my work would have gone for nothing.” - Thomas Edison
  • 13. More than TeamworkCollaboration is not the same thing as teamwork.Teamwork involves just “doing your part” Collaboration involves engaging the unique strengths of each team participant, creating a multiplying force…not just an additive one
  • 14. Knowledge AssetsTrue collaboration createsknowledge assetsThese knowledge assets canbe reshaped andreconfigured overtime…yielding a sustainingengine for value creation,and innovation
  • 15. Collaboration is a ContinuumFor Edison, true collaboration operates as a continuum,not a stop-start processTrue collaboration balances discovery learning andperformance. It moves beyond tasks.
  • 16. Edison’s Four PhasesLet’s examine Thomas Edison’s Four Phases of TrueCollaboration™, and identify how each phase can beapplied now…in the Innovation Age CAPACITY Assemble small teams of 2 to 8 people Ensure each team includes a diversity of expertise, talents, and thinking styles.
  • 17. Midnight LunchEdison created invisible glue between the employees onthese small collaboration teams through a process hisMenlo Park workers called “midnight lunch”
  • 18. Making of a Midnight LunchAfter a full workday, Edisonwould sometimes return tothe lab after dinner with hisfamily, and check in on keyexperiments that weretaking placeHe encouraged others whostayed late to share theirexperiments with each other,and exchange their expertiseAt 9 pm, after roughly 2 hours of dialogue, Edison orderedin food and beverages for everyone from a local tavern
  • 19. Employees Become ColleaguesThe assembled cadre of workershung out with Edison for about anhour to eat, sing songs, tell stories,and play musical instrumentsThey called this “midnight lunch.”After midnight lunch, everyonewent back to work until the weehours of the morningThrough midnight lunches, Edisontransformed employees intocolleagues. Colleagues feel part of alarger whole. They feel connectedbeyond social standing or education
  • 20. Phase Two CONTEXT Edison was rarely content accepting things as they were, preferring to change the playing field entirely, or improve what already existed to deliver new value Edison savored the creation of new context for working and thinking. Through collaboration, he asked different questions than his competitors did, yielding breakthrough insights and unique experiments
  • 21. Analogical ThinkingIn Phase 2, instead of brainstorming,Edison’s collaboration teamsemployed analogical thinking… theprocess of comparing two thingsthat seem unlike and identifyinghow they are alikeThis activates the brain’s innatecreating centers, yielding fruitfulquestions, experiments and patternsIn creating context, Edison alsotriumphed through the developmentof prototypes, which provide physicaland visual feedback to the brain, andenable rapid learning cycles
  • 22. Casual DiscussionIn Phase 2 Edison also embracedcasual discussion…a means for thebrain to organize andreorganize concepts withoutlocking down on them too soonThis helps create new scenarioswithout a concern for “beingright” or looking foolishThrough casual conversations,individuals are encouraged tocontribute their best stuff, and nothold unique knowledge in reserve
  • 23. Phase Three COHERENCEPhysicist David Bohm describes coherence as “sharing acommon content.” It is an organic rather than a static forceCoherence can be present even if there is some “noise” in theenvironment
  • 24. Coherence and Inspiration Coherence enables teams to stay together and remain functional even when there is disagreement, or when obstacles arise Just as we experience today, in Edison’s time resource constraints often strain the coherence of a team Inspirational leadership is a key factor which helps collaboration teams continue to move forward
  • 25. New Definitions of ProgressInspirational leaders like Edison, or Steve Jobs, help teamssee the big picture. They lay out a vision of where they’reheaded even if the road to achieving it seems uncertainEdison helped teams define how progress could be gaugedNew definitions of progress are emerging today asGeneration Y enters the workforce. Creating measures ofprogress that motivate your entire team is essential
  • 26. Grooming New LeadersEdison served as a catalyst forinspirational leaders to arise inhis labs as well as his factoriesEdison also provided shoulder-to-shoulder leadership by sharinginsights, stories, and helping tosynthesize the knowledge assetsfrom one team with anotherIn developing coherence, Edisonuniquely groomed new leadersand cross-trained his workers
  • 27. Phase Four COMPLEXITYAs never before, manmade complexsystems surround us in daily life.Examples include familiar systemslike the Stock Market and theInternetBut now, we have newmanmade systems like socialnetworks, and realtime datagathering from smart devices,driving new forms of complexityEdison viewed complex systems as acentral part of collaboration andinnovation. Rather than runningfrom complexity, he embraced it
  • 28. Teams as Complex SystemsBy drawing from different disciplines, each small teamEdison formed represented a complex adaptive systemEach of Edison’s collaboration teams included all threefacets which define complexity as we know it today:1. Multiplicity – the number of potentially interacting elements in a system2. Interdependence – the level of connection among the elements in the system3. Diversity - the degree of uniqueness or heterogeneity of elements in the system
  • 29. Smart Layers Rather than HierarchiesEdison built his teams in smart layers rather than ashierarchies. This allowed collaboration to operate morerapidly and be productive – even without computersSmart layers engage rapid research, analysis, and synthesisToday, we can turn to social networks and digitaltechnologies as tools to navigate complexity inherent incollaboration, and innovation.
  • 30. ConclusionBy engaging the practice of midnight lunch, and applyingthe 4 Phases of True Collaboration™ -- Capacity, Context,Coherence, and Complexity -- your collaborations can be apervasive force powering innovation, anywhereBegin todayBook: www.powerpatterns.comEmail: info@powerpatterns.comTwitter: @sarahcaldicottLinkedIn:
  • 31. About the AuthorSarah Miller Caldicott is a great grandniece of Thomas Edison. She works withorganizations that want to bring innovation practices to the center of their businessculture, driving new levels of growth and relevance.Sarah is a highly sought after speaker and content developer on the subjects ofenterprise innovation and collaboration. Sarah offers consulting services whichapply Thomas Edison’s world-changing innovation methods in the digital era.Sarahs books have been featured in The New York Times,Fortune Small Business, Fast Company, and USA Today.Sarah has also appeared as an innovation expert on PBStelevision, CNBC, the Fox Business Network, and NPR.Her clients include Intel, Motorola, Microsoft, John Deere,Emerson, Aon, and the Mayo Clinic among many others.Sarah received a BA from Wellesley College, where she wasnamed a Wellesley College Scholar. She holds an MBAfrom the Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. CEO, The Power Patterns of Innovation 7115 North Ave, Suite 312 Oak Park, IL 60302 Phone: +1-708-445-9335