Are you and Edison or an Einstein

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Are you an Edison or an Einstein?
Please read the article below and then answer the five questions that follow.

Worth Repeating

“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”
-Thomas Edison

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science.”
-Albert Einstein

As you explore your personal strengths and weaknesses, it is important to know what type of thinking style you prefer. Some enterprising people and entrepreneurs think like “Edisons,” while others think like “Einsteins.”

Thomas Edison invented the light bulb by applying a logical step-by-step process. In his hundreds of attempts, Edison used incremental problem solving to achieve his goal. Albert Einstein developed the theory of relativity in a completely different way. His predictions stemmed from out of the box thinking rather than hands-on experiments. In fact, most of Einstein’s ideas were not proven by experiments until years later. Both Edison and Einstein made exceptional contributions to how we live today. They were agents of change who thought and worked in different ways.
The world needs both Edisons and Einsteins. Edisons are the people who think about ways to make existing ideas better. Edison used existing knowledge to develop his inventions, and then spent a long time gradually improving them through experimentation. Einsteins are the people who come up with fundamentally new ideas. They look beyond existing knowledge to find solutions to problems.
If all the people in a workplace were Edisions, the focus would be on making existing systems better. The Edisons might not notice external challenges, and this could lead to the demise of the organization in the face of global competition. On the other hand, if all the people were Einsteins, there would be plenty of ideas, but no one to carry them through to completion. Einsteins like to think creatively about entirely new systems, but they are not very interested in the details of implementation. For a team to be successful, the members need to have diverse thinking styles.
Now that you have read the article above, now answer the following questions using the information presented to you in the article, and in the charts below.
Pass in your answers.

  1. Analyze the chart below. What advantages are there to each problem solving approach?

Impact of Style Preference on Group Process and Output

  • Treats problem as defined

Problem Definition

  • Treats problem definition as part of the problem (instinctively reshapes)

  • Uses rules and regulations to solve problems

Rules and Regulations

  • Ignores or breaks rules to solve problems

  • What group thinks is important

Group Consensus

  • Challenges group thinking

  • Masters detail

Attention to Detail

  • Sheds detail

  • Less is more – two or three well defined ideas

Types of Ideas



  1. The “Change at Work” chart below illustrates how the Edison and Einstein approaches can bring positive change to the workplace, to the local community, to your school, and to your home. How could you use the ideas listed below to improve your personal performance at school? How could you use this think to develop your entrepreneurial potential?

Change at Work

Seven Possibilities for making Change

Incremental (Edisons)

Fundamental (Einsteins)

Do Things Right

(Efficient – Right Procedures)

Do the Right Things

(Effective – Right Priorities First)

Do Things Better

(Improvement – Analysis, Fine Tune)

Do Things Others Do

(Copy Ideas – Think beyond Our Box)

Do Away With Things

(Cut – Stop Doing Low Yield Things)

Do Things Not Yet Done

(Different Perspectives – New Box)

Do Things That Cannot Be Done

(Breakthrough – Do The Impossible)

  1. Are you an Edison or an Einstein? Write a short explanation that explains your choice. Describe how you could make your style preference work to your advantage.

  1. Imagine that Edison and Einstein held a debate about the process of people use to make human discoveries. What might each have to say during this conversational debate?

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