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Pittsburgh Innovator in New Book about 'Inventive Giants' and their Struggles
PITTSBURGH, PA. - A revealing new book about the successes and so-called "failures"of celebrated innovators of historic and modern times includes chapters on Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Alexander Graham Bell, Henry Ford, Jerome Lemelson, George Washington Carver - and George Davison.
The fourth-generation local business leader is one of 12 "great inventors"detailed in "Edison's Concrete Piano,"which explores some lesser known inventions of successful inventors, including Edison's piano made of concrete, da Vinci's walk-on-water shoes, and more recently, Davison's "popcorn volcano" and "screaming bug zapper."In the fun and informative read, science educator Judy Wearing demonstrates that, in fact, "failure amid greatness is the norm, not the exception."
For Davison to be counted among inventors who have changed the world may seem surprising; but to those who are familiar with the creator of Inventionland and founder of the "Davison method,"which has resulted in getting new products in nearly 500 stores, it is not so unexpected. Unlike the two gadgets previously mentioned, most new products created at Davison's company are not novelty items. In fact, several have won international recognition, such as the Hot/Cold Therapy Wrist Brace, the BikeBoard, the Jack 'N Stand and the Hover Creeper, an automotive "hovercraft"that won a Silver Industrial Design Excellence Award in Design Explorations.
One of Davison's greatest inventions, however, is not a new or improved product, but an improvement of the process. In fact, he is often referred to as the "Henry Ford of inventing"because, just as Henry Ford brought the car to the average person, Davison has brought the process of inventing to the average person.
To that end, Davison created a facility where all facets of the inventive process take place under one roof - and in a highly creative setting. As Wearing writes:
It is not unusual for great inventors to turn their minds to whole scale improvements of the way things are done ...George Davison, in a similar big picture vein, has turned his mind to ways of improving the commercial product invention process itself. He's focused on what he calls "enabling technologies,"which assist human beings to tap into whatever fuels their creativity. The result is a 60,000-square-foot facility ... Inventionland is the workspace of his inventors, and it is unique in the world. It is a creative environment that has been carefully planned to tackle what Davison describes as "the human challenge"-- the ebbs and flows of the human mind... Launched in 2006, Inventionland is a surreal office composed of high-tech computers in a Disneylandlike setting, the antithesis of the cubicles in "Office Space."
Wearing also explores the question of why some inventions never get off the ground while others are instant hits, as well as what characterizes great inventors, such as "determination and a strong belief in one's work."She also shows how successful inventors deal with their failures:
Davison says, "I see failure as a mirror. For me, in inventing, this is especially important. You've taken an idea and built it into a well-constructed, fingerprint-free reflection of yourself. Then it fails. It smashes into hundreds of shards of mirror. To some it's a mess, a disappointment. To me, I see hundreds of new ideas staring back at me. I just choose a new path and go on from there."
Davison, who is considered a controversial figure by some because his process does not involve patenting in the early stages, says that inventors need to be able to interpret what the public wants as best they can and then take it to the world. He also believes inventors must be determined and stick to their creative guns.
"The book is a lesson in determination; you follow your dreams regardless of what other people say,"he said. "It's a good thing you do, otherwise we'd have no commerce in this country; we'd have no country at all."
Davison is a new product development company that has created a method of building ideas into products that makes the process affordable for inventors, corporations and entrepreneurs.
Products designed by Davison have sold in stores across the U.S., including Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Walmart, Home Depot, Sears, K-Mart, JC Penney, Jo-Ann Stores, FAO Schwarz, Cabela's and Dick's Sporting Goods.
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