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Thomas Edison’s Dirty Little Secret – A ‘Bride of Chucky’ Doll PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Friday, 31 October 2014 15:32
Why great ideas are not always great opportunities
By: Neal Thornberry, Ph.D.

Like other authors who write about innovation, I love Thomas Edison stories. He was an inventive genius and found the code to serial innovation more than 120 years ago. That code is still in use by companies like IDEO who’ve learned his lessons and both improved upon them and added to them. But the basic core is still the same.

Less well known is Edison’s entrepreneurial side.  He put financiers, government officials, politicians and inventors like himself together in an inspired coalition that built the first electrical grid in New York City. After all, what good is a lightbulb if you don’t have a source of electricity to power it?

But his inventions were not always successful, nor were his attempts to market and sell them.

For example, very few people know about Edison’s talking doll. I think she looks like the “Bride of Chucky” and is more than a little spooky. Talking, animated objects are commonplace today, but Edison was the first to have the idea and execute it.

What gave her voice was a tiny version of the phonograph – another of his inventions. He thought it would be novel to make a talking doll and hoped it would catch on. The doll market was already thriving, so a talking doll could potentially reach the top of the heap.

But not all of Edison’s creativity turned into cash, and his Bride of Chucky was a dismal failure. The little talking machine went inside the doll with the handle protruding from her back. Edison produced 2,500 of the dolls but only 500 sold. They were $10 each -- two weeks of the average pay back in 1890 – and many of those sold were returned for quality problems.

Edison quickly turned his back on her.

I particularly like this story because it shows the critical difference between innovation and entrepreneurship. Great ideas are not always great opportunities. Opportunities possess five characteristics that differentiate them from great ideas:

Durability – They keep creating value over time.

Sustainability – The organization has the willpower, manpower and resources to sustain the idea through failure, rethinking and reformulation.

Defensibility – The potential return on investment makes it worth the time, resources and risk that accompany all new ventures, thus making it worth doing this over doing something else.

It creates value – It creates value for the person willing to reach into their pockets for money to pay for the intangible form and thus it creates value for the company.

It is compelling – The Innovation is differentiated in some critical way that makes a customer segment just have to have it.

Entrepreneurs differ substantially from innovators because they have the discipline to determine whether a great idea is also a great opportunity.  This takes a lot of work, failure, rethinking and, most of all, passion to get you through all of this vetting. Many innovators lose interest after the idea stage and don’t understand that innovation without value creation may be fun – but it’s also folly.

Edison, like many other inventors, fell in love with his baby and he built a bunch of them, assuming a slam dunk in the market. In fact, these dolls were not just spooky looking, they were big and heavy and cost a lot of money.

Edison’s enthusiasm for his ability to make a talking doll was not counterbalanced by the discipline necessary to determine whether the idea was just that or a real opportunity.  He was so eager to produce them that he didn’t ask if the market wanted such an invention and at what price.

I am sure that Edison was OK with failure, as he once said that he had not failed in his efforts to create the lightbulb, but rather found a thousand ways that didn’t work.

About Neal Thornberry, Ph.D.

Neal Thornberry, Ph.D., is the founder and CEO of IMSTRAT, LLC a consulting firm that specializes in helping private and public sector organizations develop innovation strategies. A respected thought leader in innovation, Thornberry is a highly sought-after international speaker and consultant. He  also serves as the faculty director for innovation initiatives at the Center for Executive Education at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. Thornberry, author of “InnovationJudo:Disarming Roadblocks & Blockheads on the Path to Creativity” (, holds a doctorate in organizational psychology and specializes in innovation, corporate entrepreneurship, leadership and organizational transformation.

Statement by Governor Pat Quinn on the Passing of Former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Katie Hickey   
Friday, 31 October 2014 14:24
CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today issued  the following statement regarding Former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino:

“We mourn the loss today of a giant among our nation’s Mayors, Tom Menino.

“As Boston’s longest-serving Mayor, Tom transformed the skyline and waterfront, turned an aging city into a green community and was a tireless advocate for affordable housing and education. As co-founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, he became a national voice on keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. This son of a factory worker fostered innovation Downtown while growing healthy neighborhoods.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Angela, their children and grandchildren and the people of Boston.”


Simon presents $10,000 Verizon donation for domestic violence prevention PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ken Lowe   
Wednesday, 29 October 2014 13:04

Verizon HopeLine cell phone drive helps domestic violence survivors

CHICAGO — Oct. 28, 2014. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon brought her office’s fourth annual Domestic Violence Awareness Month cell phone drive to a successful conclusion with the presentation of two $5,000 donations from Verizon’s HopeLine program to the Violence Prevention Center of Southwestern Illinois and Chicago-based Connections for Abused Women and their Children.

“Organizations like these help survivors to protect their families and themselves as they get back on their feet after abusive relationships,” Simon said. “Each year, Domestic Violence Awareness Month is about educating ourselves about domestic violence. I hope this has called some attention to the issue, and I know that the Violence Prevention Center of Southwestern Illinois, and Connections for Abused Women and their Children will use this money to help those who most need it.”

Collected phones will be donated to Verizon’s HopeLine program. Phones will be refurbished and sold, with the proceeds going to support local domestic violence shelters and programs. The program also provides domestic violence agencies with wireless phones and airtime for use by domestic violence victims. If a phone can’t be refurbished, it will be recycled in an environmentally sound way.

“Verizon is dedicated to supporting organizations like Connections and the Violence Prevention Center,” said Mike McMahon, director of business sales, Verizon Wireless. “We applaud their important contribution to our community to help victims and raise awareness of the pervasive problem of domestic violence.”

Based in Belleville, the Violence Prevention Center of Southwestern Illinois provides shelter and other services to domestic violence survivors in St. Clair, Monroe and Randolph Counties. The donation will be used to support the services provided by the Center’s legal advocacy program, said Lisa Chilton, Director of Legal Advocacy for the Violence Prevention Center.

“The Violence Prevention Center is grateful to Verizon for this financial gift because of how it will help eliminate the barriers a domestic violence survivor faces when trying to get to safety,” Chilton said. “We know lack of resources and legal assistance become barriers to safety. These additional resources will allow victims to get to safety and for the community to focus on the more important question:  "How can we stop this abuser from abusing?"

Half of the proceeds from the drive will also go toward Connections for Abused Women and Children (CAWC). Based in Chicago, the group provides domestic violence relief services to families in need. CAWC Executive Director Stephanie Love-Patterson said the cell phone drive is important and timely.

“On behalf of the board of directors and staff of Connections for Abused Women and their Children, we appreciate the generous gift from Verizon,” Love-Patterson said. “These funds will help CAWC to continue to provide life-saving services and work toward our mission of ending domestic violence. We greatly value community partners like you!”

As Lt. Governor, Simon’s office has collected more than 4,000 used cell phones to help benefit survivors of domestic violence. Simon’s office also launched the Virtual Legal Clinic, a program aimed at providing free, confidential legal consultation to domestic violence survivors in rural and underserved counties. The program, which will continue under the purview of the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, connects survivors to lawyers with expertise in family law via internet technology.


Operation Graditude - Say Thanks to our Troops PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Operation Graditude   
Tuesday, 28 October 2014 09:17
We have three immediate ways to share your support

All of us at Operation Gratitude are gearing up for the busiest season of the year! Between now and the end of 2014, we will ship more than 40,000 packages to our Deployed Troops, New Recruits, Military Families and Veterans.

Here are three ways for you to get involved--from anywhere in the country:

ONE:  Participate in our #SayThanks Campaign and Send a Picture Directly to our Troops Would you like to send a picture and a message of thanks to our nation's Service Members, Veterans and Military Families?

Now is your chance to capture your gratitude in a photo. Your visual message of heartfelt thanks will remind our heroes and their families that they are always remembered and appreciated.

Click here today to submit your picture and we will share it online and send it in a Care Package on November 8th.

TWO:  Send your Deployed Loved One a Care Package Filled with Goodies and Appreciation

Each month, hundreds of volunteers take part in our Assembly Days where they produce thousands of packages for our Military.

Do you have a loved one, friend or colleague serving overseas?

Click here to send them an Operation Gratitude Care Package filled with nearly 50 assorted snacks, entertainment and hand-made items, personal care products, and letters of love and respect.

THREE:  Make a Donation to Send Packages to our Troops

We get pictures and notes from the Troops that receive our packages every day:

"A care package like that can change our outlook on the entire day."

"Getting something in the mail really lifts spirits."

"It really helps to know that we are loved..."

You can help us keep our mission alive by making a donation of $15 to send a care package overseas, $30 to send two or $180 to send one every month for the next year.

Our Troops need to know that we remember them and appreciate them for the sacrifices they make each day.

Now is the Time

The holidays are especially hard on our Service Members because they are so far away from home and loved ones. Now is the time to show we care.

Thank you for your enthusiastic support!

Volunteers needed to deliver holiday meals PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Catherine Pratscher-Woods   
Tuesday, 28 October 2014 08:05

Milestones Area Agency on Aging is seeking volunteers to deliver meals to home-bound seniors on the upcoming holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

A two hour time commitment (10:30 am until 12:30 pm) is asked for on the holiday or holidays the volunteer chooses.

Meals can be picked up at St. Ambrose University, Davenport.

Each volunteer will be assigned five to 10 homes in Scott County and will be given a specific route. Typically, 800 meals are delivered during this period. Volunteers can make deliveries once, twice or three times.

Volunteers can make deliveries as individuals or work as a team.

For additional information and details or to volunteer, please contact Catherine Pratscher-Woods, nutrition education coordinator, Milestones Area Agency on Aging at 563-324-9085, ext. 205 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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