Thomas Edison Created First Agile Organization

I’m sure you’ve heard of Thomas Edison. That guy who is often quoted:

“Genius is 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration.”

Edison is the third most prolific inventor in history, holding 1,093 US patents. He is credited with numerous inventions that contributed to mass communication and, in particular, telecommunications.

First Agile shop in 1876

Edison established an industrial research laboratory in New Jersey (Menlo Park) as early as 1876. That puts the elements we now call “Agile” in practical commercial use in the 19th century. What’s more, one could easily make the case that the industrial research laboratory is modeled on the practices of academic research and scientific method, which dates to the 17th century.

Menlo Park became the first institution set up with the specific purpose of producing constant technological innovation and improvement. Edison was legally attributed with most of the inventions produced there, though many employees carried out research and development under his direction. His staff was generally told to carry out his directions in conducting research, and he drove them hard to produce results. – Wikipedia

Oh snap, can we smell us some Agile here?

Edison was a master at the art of never-giving-up. He continually improved upon older technologies, looked at things differently, and empirically approached improvement. Sounds like he was the master Agilist of the time.

Agile isn’t new. Just the word.

[HT: SmartData]

5 Responses to “Thomas Edison Created First Agile Organization”

  1. MMM
    September 13, 2011 at 11:42 am #

    Here’s a short quiz. Thomas Alva Edison…

    [ ] did deliver software?
    [ ] used short release cycles (of under a year)?
    [ ] was known for building self-organizing teams?
    [ ] did shake hands with Jeff Sutherland in Menlo Park?
    [ ] did invent the first Kanban board from carbonized filament?
    [ ] did publish an early version of the Edison Agile Manifesto?
    [ ] was an US American?

    • peter
      September 13, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

      Ha. Nice!


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