Monday, 13 August 2018

The glass harmonica: a story of creativity and innovation (No.15)

To see the previous posts in this series click here.

Whilst inventing the glass harmonica, Benjamin Franklin used a variety of creative thinking and problem solving approaches. Four of these approaches stand out because of their simplicity.      

Here is the fourth approach:

Creating an explicit goal for innovative activities that is detailed enough to provide direction but simple enough to allow flexibility in the way it is achieved. 

"I wished only to see the glasses disposed in a more convenient form, and brought together in a narrower compass, so as to admit a greater number of tunes, and all within reach of a hand to a person sitting before the instrument..."
(From a letter written by Benjamin Franklin dated 13th July 1762)

The above is the goal Franklin kept to the forefront of his mind whilst he set about inventing the glass harmonica. 

It is detailed enough to provide clear direction about the things that need to be achieved and simple enough to allow flexibility about how those things are to be achieved.

This 'detailed enough' goal underpinned and strengthened Franklin's ability to maintain a balance between being patient with the process of innovation but demanding of the people with whom he worked.

It also allowed Franklin and his team of manufacturers and glassblowers enough freedom to try different techniques and approaches, gain insights and learn from experience. This emphasised and exploited the crucial connection between the development of an innovation and the development of the team developing that innovation.

To read the next post click here.

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