Battalion chief has fire in the belly

January 12, 2011
At age 32, Marcel Melanson of the Compton Fire Department in California is one of the youngest battalion chiefs in America, yet he conveys a mature vision: to improve public safety nationwide. Melanson has used his platform on the reality show First In to engage corporate partners, including Cisco, which is building a wireless network in Compton linked to a citywide camera system.

The myth of Darwin’s ‘eureka!’ moment

January 11, 2011

The “eureka!” moment came for Charles Darwin in October 1838, as he was reading something Thomas Malthus had written about population. All of a sudden, the basic algorithm of natural selection popped into his head. At least, that’s how the story goes. In truth, there was no single aha moment.

Leadership Tips: Vol. 111

January 10, 2011
Stay professional at virtual meetings … Get free advice about running a business from, launched last fall by Inc. magazine and answer site Mahalo … Here’s a suggestion for airport security … Google co-founder Sergey Brin, having conquered search, has set his sights and his money on finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease.

You’re plenty innovative. Now go to work

January 3, 2011

Scott Berkun, whose book several years ago challenged the assumption that innovation and greatness are linked, is back at it. A new paperback edition of The Myths of Innovation still warns that novelty for the sake of novelty is overrated. Usually, “innovation” is a distraction from the task at hand, Berkun says.

Taking the Marshmallow Challenge

December 21, 2010

With 18 minutes, 20 sticks of spaghetti, a yard of tape, a yard of string and one marshmallow, Tom Wujec believes he can tell you how innovative any team is. Here’s how:

Robert Bradford’s one great idea

December 7, 2010
Robert Bradford served one term as Massachusetts governor in the 1940s and was not re-elected. But his otherwise-nondescript political career did spawn a memorable program, which has blossomed into SOS Children’s Villages.

How to improve upon your best ideas

November 29, 2010

Alexandre Gustave Eiffel né Bönickhausen is famous for designing the Eiffel Tower. But Eiffel wasn’t content with simply designing one of the world’s most visited landmarks; he continued to find ways to use it.

Henri Becquerel and overwork

November 25, 2010
If you said that Marie and Pierre Curie discovered radiation, you’d be almost right. They were following up on Henri Becquerel’s discovery of radioactive particles emanating from uranium. But with dedication to one’s work often comes disregard for one’s health. Becquerel died suddenly at age 55, probably from handling radioactive stones.

Cartoon great Chuck Jones’ success tips

November 24, 2010

Cartoon creator and producer Chuck Jones credits his success to a lack of constant supervision early on and his father’s string of business failures. Every time his father launched a business, he’d print new stationery and pencils. Using his cast-offs, Jones drew and drew. Here are his six success tips.

Putting innovation into practice

October 20, 2010

You post a sign that says “Core Value No. 1: Innovation,” send out a blizzard of memos outlining what the “new” company will look like, and make a moving speech that announces your vision to the world. And then? Nothing happens. Here’s one way to put innovation in action, if you’re an innovation leader: Fail forward. Get into the habit of creating many experiments and celebrating the learning.