Tuesday, 7 August 2018

The glass harmonica: a story of creativity and innovation (No.12)

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 first approach:

Using action-oriented inventiveness that incorporates imaginative prototyping.

The act of making was essential to Franklin's creative process; inventing was about doing.

Having imagined a glass harmonica, Franklin immediately did something to make it a reality. 

He sought and engaged an expert glassblower to make the bowls that were central to the instrument's mechanism. Interestingly, the glassblower Franklin chose had a particularly imaginative mind and was keen to experiment.

Although he expressed irritation about some of his glassblower's flights of experimental fancy, Franklin did not immediately dismiss the craftsman or forbid all imaginative meanderings. 

Franklin's toleration most probably enhanced what was an early form of prototyping that, after hundreds of glassblowing sessions and repeated testing, provided the knowledge and insights required to produce perfect glass harmonica bowls.

Franklin's action-oriented inventiveness, which incorporated prototyping and tolerated imaginative experimentation, produced the desired results.

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