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Six Lessons On Innovation From The Wright Brothers
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Six Lessons On Innovation From The Wright Brothers

When Wilbur and Orville Wright managed to build and fly an airplane, you might imagine that the world was immediately dazzled by their amazing achievement.

You"™d be wrong.

As David McCullough chronicles in his excellent book The Wright Brothers, many of the "most prominent engineers, scientists, and original thinkers of the nineteenth century had been working on the problem of controlled flight," without success. The endeavor was fraught with hazards that included "humiliating failure, injury, and, of course, death, (but also)"¦ the inevitable prospect of being mocked as a crank, a crackpot, and in many cases with good reason."

Lesson #1: Don"™t worry about failure

John T. Daniels, who witnessed their first successful flights, said later, "It wasn"™t luck that made them fly; it was hard work and common sense; they put their whole heart and soul and all their energy into an idea and they had the faith."

Lesson #2: Have a publicity plan, but don"™t expect instant success

The brothers had a preexisting plan to alert the media when they finally achieved success. It involved notifying newspapers and the Associated Press, which they did. A smattering of largely inaccurate accounts appeared in some newspapers, and the story almost instantly disappeared…

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