Edison’s ability to generate a vast range of ideas drove his world-beating approach to practical solution finding. He could consider many problems at the same time and was able to look at each one from multiple angles. At the height of his exploration into electrical power, for example, he worked on forty projects simultaneously. Edison credited his remarkable facility for making creative connections to his “mental kaleidoscope.”
Kaleidoscopic thinking is the term Michael Gelb and Sarah Miller Caldicott developed for Edison’s unparalleled approach to practical creativity. He had strategies for juggling multiple projects and how to “turn a problem around” from every angle. Kaleidoscopic thinking will help you develop your ability to generate ideas, make creative connections, and discern patterns. Using both your imagination and your reasoning ability, you can discover how to liberate your mind from the constraints of habitual thinking. Edison cultivated the use of metaphors, analogies, and visual thinking. His down-to-earth way of picturing things first in his mind’s eye and then on paper is surprisingly easy to learn.
Edison’s kaleidoscopic mind brought forward revolutionary ideas that changed the way we live. In bringing the world electric light, Edison bucked conventional wisdom. His ability to manage dozens of projects simultaneously at the height of developing his electrical power system stands as testimony not only to his exceptional kaleidoscopic thinking abilities, but his capacity managing complexity is a key skill covered in Competency #3: Full-spectrum Engagement.
Next: Full-Spectrum Engagement
Read on overview of Edison’s Five Competencies for Innovation here.
This material adapted from Innovate Like Edison, by Michael J. Gelb and Sarah Miller Caldicott