The Innovator’s Equation for Success

Thomas Edison’s innovative, gifted and future thinking finance and operations expert was Samuel Insull. While Edison was inventing, manufacturing and selling electric power plants to factory owners, Insull was studying data, numbers and the economics of the emerging electric generation industry. The data he found eventually helped motivate him to leave Edison’s organizations to lead his own.

The data insights Insull gleaned revealed there were better business models available for providing electricity to factories. Rather than requiring every factory to buy and operate their own power plant, an electric power generation plant could be devised in such a manner as to supply many factories through an electric grid. The data showed a large power plant connected to many factories could achieve far greater economies of scale that would generate higher profits and lower costs. Insull understood that his insight from his available data was an advantage. He also recognized that one advantage in the form of economies of scale, could in turn lead to many other advantages down the road (An advantage multiplied by an advantage=A² benefits).

Leaders and innovators today can also be recipients of A² benefits. Early adopters and innovators gain insight into what works and what doesn’t before followers and laggards. That information is incredibly useful and valuable. Once a successful design or model is determined and implemented, new user experience data and feedback guide the way forward on paths which competitors have no data, logic or understanding to follow.

Data by itself, however, does not deliver success. Insull had foresight. He was able, like a chess master, to understand how one advantage could lead to many other additional future advantages that when combined could deliver the ultimate package of A² benefits that would deliver the desired scenario.

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